Syria ǀ Flash Update #6, Humanitarian impact of the military operation in north-eastern Syria, 15 October 2019 [EN/AR]

Situation Report
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  • The security situation in northeast Syria remains highly volatile as the military operation enters its seventh day. Airstrikes and intense hostilities appeared to de-escalate slightly during 15 October. Clashes continued however in Ras Al Ain.

  • While no further territorial advances were reported on 15 October, the humanitarian access landscape in the area has rapidly changed in the past few days as Turkish Armed Forces made significant territorial advances and Government of Syria forces continued to deploy forces across various Governorates, reportedly reaching the Al Yarobiyah crossing point with Iraq. Turkish and Syrian armed forces have reportedly been in close proximity in various locations, but clashes appear to have been avoided so far.

  • An estimated 160,000 people have recently been displaced since the beginning of the crisis on 9 October, fleeing military advances and hostilities. Many have displaced multiple times from one area to another. Some 1,000 individuals have reportedly fled to Iraq.

  • Military advances to Tal Tamer, now hosting many of the newly displaced, are of grave concern.
    According to health actors, the hospital in Tal Tamer – one of the few still operational in affected areas – received hundreds of casualties in the past days, against a critical shortage of supplies.

  • On 15 October, the evacuation of the Ein Issa camp residents was completed, except a few households that chose to remain. The camp, previously hosting close to 13,000 displaced people, was at a cross road between three different armed forces. Most residents were transferred to Mahmudli IDP camp, while others were able to leave to other areas.

  • In total, close to 20,000 IDPs living in Ein Issa and Mabruka camps had to be relocated to safer areas in the past few days. Efforts to provide assistance to the new arrivals at Areesheh and Mahmudli camp are underway. Humanitarian actors continue providing life-saving assistance to over 100,000 displaced people in various camps in the region, including Al Hol.

  • Humanitarian partners are also stepping up to provide life-saving assistance and protection services to the newly displaced arriving in collective shelters in Al Hasakeh, Tal Tamer, and ArRaqqa. Over 5,000 people are currently displaced across more than 30 collective shelters.

  • Significant parts of the M4 highway, which is the main transport route running east-west across northern Syria, remain cut off. Quamishli airport remains open and in use by humanitarian partners to airlift supplies, such as health-related goods. The Al Yarobiyah and Fishkabour border crossings are currently open and reportedly operating normally.

  • Despite ongoing efforts, needs across the region remain significant, stretching existing capacities. Additional resources and implementing capacities are urgently needed to adequately respond to needs.

  • The United Nations and its partners call for regular, unimpeded and continuous humanitarian access to people fleeing or caught in the violence, across lines of control.

  • The United Nations has been liaising with Turkish authorities and other parties on the ground to allow the movement of a repair crew for the Allouk water station as well as for the protection of civilians evacuating Ein Issa and Mabruka camps.

Situation overview

In its seventh day, the military operations in northeast Syria persisted and continued to impact civilians. Advances made by Turkish and Government of Syria forces across the region in the past days brought them extremely close to each other and, in some areas, to places where people have been displaced raising fears of a potential escalation. Clashes have largely been avoided so far.
In the past days, Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and allies reportedly made significant territorial advances 30 kilometers south of the border, mainly within the Tell Abiad district, while pushing towards northern Menbij, in Aleppo governorate. At the same time, Government of Syria troops have allegedly been sent to Al-Hasakeh, Quamishli, Tal Tamer, Tabqa and around Ein Issa town and have expanded their presence in several villages within Menbij sub-district. Early on 15 October, clashes between non-state armed groups and the Syrian Democratic Forces continued in Ras Al Ain city, Al-Hasakeh Governorate.

Despite reports that Turkish airstrikes decreased significantly in the last two days compared to the first days, hospitals in various areas report receiving numerous casualties as a result of hostilities, stretching limited capacities and availability of materials. WHO completed their second airlift of medical items, to distribute materials across hospitals and health centers in the region.
Civilian casualties are being reported in the media from both sides of the border as a result of shelling.

Update on Menbij, Aleppo governorate, as of 15 October On 14 October, the Turkish army and the Syrian National Army announced the beginning of “the battle for Menbij” aiming at capturing the district of Menbij in Aleppo Governorate, reportedly controlling several villages (Bashli- A’zouri) in rural Menbij. On that same day, reports indicated that Government of Syria troops were also entering Ain Al Arab district in northeastern rural Aleppo however, no confirmation received from local contacts as the city. However, operations appeared to be halted. As such, the situation in both Menbij and Ain Al Arab, Aleppo Governorate, remains tense but with neither major shift in control nor IDP movements reported.

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