- An estimated 13,500 people have reportedly been encircled by fighting around Mare’a city following advancements made by ISIL into NSAG held territories in the early hours of the morning of 27 May.
- A reported 4,600 individuals have reportedly moved north within the opposition controlled Azaz – Mare’a corridor from informal settlements around the Bab Al-Iman – Bab Al-Salam road and from the villages of Kiljibrin and Kafr Kalbein to communities around Bab Al-Salam camps and Azaz town, which are already struggling to cope with rising needs since recent influxes of IDPs.
- Some 6,000 civilians in the village of Kiljibrin have reportedly remained during ISIL’s rapid offensives. To date there have been reports of executions and arrests of those suspected of belonging to opposition groups.
- Some 163,000 IDPs already reside within the Azaz corridor with the majority having been displaced as a result of fighting starting in early 2016.
- Two NGO supported hospitals have evacuated staff and assets from the Bab Al-Salam area, while at least three humanitarian staff have been critically wounded in towns close to conflict lines.
- A high number of humanitarian agencies have gone into hibernation mode and have evacuated staff towards the Bab Al Salam and Aza
As of the early hours of May 27, ISIL militants launched a three-pronged offensive from territories some 5-10 km east of Azaz town and the Bab Al Salam border crossing point (BCP) in the northern Aleppo countryside. ISIL militants managed to rapidly seize a number of populated villages, most notably Ferziyeh, Nayara, Jarez, Yahmul, Niddeh, Kiljibrin and Kafr Kalbein, arriving within approx. 2 km of Azaz town, putting at risk a high number of displaced and vulnerable communities living in camps adjacent to the Turkish border.
ISIL’s seizure of Kiljibrin and Kafr Kalbein towns along the Azaz – Mare’a corridor has divided the long contested opposition enclave into two, rendering an estimated 13,500 civilians in Mare’a town surrounded by parties to the conflict in contiguous territories. According to Kurdish and SDF military personnel in Afrin, operations are underway to clear the Tel Rifaat – Mare’a road of mines and booby traps in order to allow blockaded civilians safe passage through Afrin canton, where they would likely be able to access the western Aleppo countryside or Azaz town. It is estimated by these sources that civilians will be able to utilize the road and evacuate in coming hours or days. Furthermore, ISIL’s rapid takeover of Kiljibrin and Kafr Kalbein has impeded access to Azaz town for some 6,000 civilians who remain stranded in the two towns. In the town of Kiljibrin ISIL militants have reportedly executed a number of families with alleged links to FSA affiliated groups, including women and children.
Such proximate fighting around Azaz and the IDP border camps / settlements has prompted a number of INGOs and LNGOS working in Azaz sub district to suspend programming across most sectors as at least 300 humanitarian staff have gone into hibernation, relocating towards the Bab Al-Salam BCP amidst fighting. Fears for the safety of NGO staff and vulnerable communities along the border have heightened in the last 24 hours due to restrictions imposed on the crossing by the Turkish authorities over the last year.
To date, at least two NGO supported field hospitals operating around the BCP have evacuated core staff and assets in anticipation of further ISIL advances, with some limited staff members remaining in camps close to the crossing to help the sick and injured under threat. Amid clashes around key towns, at least three NGO medical staff members have been critically wounded by artillery and mortar attacks.
Despite concerted attempts to secure staff around the BCP, some NGO staff members have also been reportedly stranded in ISIL held areas as well as the militarily encircled town of Mare’a.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA’s activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.