Turkey | Syria: Flash Update No. 2 - Developments in Northern Aleppo, Azaz (as of 1 June 2016) [EN/AR]

Situation Report
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  • An estimated 16,150 individuals in total have been displaced by fighting since 27 May in the northern Aleppo countryside, with most joining settlements adjacent to the Bab Al Salam border crossing point, Azaz town, Afrin and Yazibag.

  • Kurdish authorities in Afrin Canton have allowed civilians unimpeded access into the canton from roads adjacent to Azaz and Mare’ since 29 May in response to ongoing displacement near hostilities between ISIL and NSAGs.

  • Some 9,000 individuals have been afforded safe passage to leave Mare’ and Sheikh Issa towns after they were trapped by fighting on 27 May; however, an estimated 5,000 civilians remain inside despite close proximity to frontlines.

  • Humanitarian organisations continue to limit staff movement in the Azaz area for safety reasons, and some remain in hibernation. Limited, cautious humanitarian service delivery has started by some in areas of high IDP concentration.

Access Overview

Despite a recent decline in hostilities since May 27, intermittent clashes continue between NSAGs and ISIL militants on the outskirts of Kafr Kalbien, Kafr Shush, Baraghideh, and Mare’ towns. A number of counter offensives have been coordinated by NSAGs operating in the Azaz sub district, hindering further advancements by ISIL militants towards Azaz town.

As of 30 May, following the recent decline in escalations between warring parties, access has increased for civilians wanting to leave Azaz and Mare’ into areas throughout Afrin canton. A substantial increase in population movements has been noted over the last 24 hours along inroads to Afrin from neighboring Azaz, with displaced families being able to cross either on foot or by vehicle. NSAGs based in Mare’ town continue to hold east Mare’ which has long been regarded as a stronghold for armed opposition groups in the northern Aleppo countryside. An approximate 9,000 civilians from the town have been exiting the towns of Sheikh Issa and Mare’ in small waves west, towards nearby towns under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF); however, an estimated 5,000 civilians remain in Mare’ town and alarmingly close to conflict lines. One of the last standing operational field hospitals in Mare’, which came under attack on May 27 by ISIL forces, continues to serve civilians remaining in the town.

Moreover, following 8,000 new arrival IDPs into Azaz sub district from ISIL-held areas in Ar-Raqqa governorate, the Shariah court in Azaz town issued an official statement on May 24 forbidding IDPs to enter Azaz town. The court cited that the large concentration of IDPs in the town and surrounding camps have heightened fears of infiltration by ISIL members posing as IDPs in the vulnerable corridor.

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