Turkey | Syria: Flash Update Developments in Eastern Aleppo, Menbij (as of 4 June 2016) [EN/AR]

Summary

 New offensives launched by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), reportedly with coalition support, have made gains towards Menbij City, putting an estimated 216,000 people at risk of displacement.

 Up to 20,000 individuals have already displaced as a result of fighting from the Abu Qalqal and Menbij sub districts.

 A further 216,000 people risk displacement from Menbij sub district if fighting intensifies.

 Offensives are underway in the Tabqa region and could lead to more displacement in the Raqqa governorate.

Access Overview

As of May 30, SDF forces staged a multi-pronged offensive against ISIL militants from the Tishreen Dam area in eastern Aleppo governorate, in a bid to exert control over territory along the Euphrates River and what could be a concerted effort to seize and control Menbij town. Reports indicate that ongoing operations have been planned since April, and are heavily supported by coalition forces, which have been mobilizing in the Ain El Arab - Tel Abiyad corridor.

As of June 3, ground assaults, with intensified coalition air support, have taken a number of villages in the Abu Qalqal area, most notably Halulah, Gvenah, Al Arandas and Saqhir Qalqal, as SDF forces move closer towards Menbij town, where an estimated 65,000 people live.

Over the past 2 days, 20 air strikes have reportedly targeted ISIL held positions along the Euphrates River, putting dozens of communities living in proximity to frontlines at risk. A previously destroyed bridge on the Euphrates Tishreen dam was repaired on June 1 by SDF and coalition support, restoring supply lines between towns west of the Euphrates and the Ein Al Arab district.

Displacement and Response As a result of rapid gains and intensified aerial activity, civilians from Menbij town and nearby villages have moved mostly towards northern towns in Menbij sub district, the Jarablous border crossing point, west towards NSAG held territories, and to a lesser extent - further south to villages dotted along the Euphrates River. According to informed sources, up to 20,000 people may have already displaced.

Some 8,000 people have reportedly moved out of Menbij town and surrounding villages towards Jarablous border crossing point, while an estimated13,500 people have left Abu Qalqal sub district into Menbij sub district and beyond. According to NSAG sources, an estimated 200 families were additionally displaced to territories regarded as safe areas behind conflict lines in the Ein El Arab district.

According to local sources, some 216,000 people could be at risk of displacement in the Menbij sub district, if further gains are made in coming weeks. Displacement trajectories are expected to be in the direction of Al-Bab city, west towards NSAG held territories in the Azaz sub district, and further south along the Maskaneh plain on the Euphrates River. As people attempt to move out of ISIL held territories, there is a possibility they may face impediments to move freely to their place of choice to seek refuge.

Humanitarian actors have increased concerns over the past number of weeks as the operational environment to provide life-saving humanitarian services has become highly restrictive and accessing vulnerable communities on the move is critical. Local sources have reported the key priority needs to families as they displace as shelter, potable water, food, healthcare and NFI items.

Needs have risen exponentially around the Jarablous pocket in the last 3 days. Jarablous border crossing point has been closed and inaccessible for humanitarian actors since ISIL’s takeover of the town in January 2014.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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