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Bezebz Bridge now a graveyard for Anbar’s displaced Open in fullscreen

Abdul Aziz al-Taei

Bezebz Bridge now a graveyard for Anbar’s displaced

Thousands of people fleeing Ramadi are stuck at checkpoints [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 May, 2015

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Thousands of people fleeing Anbar are stuck at checkpoints or being denied entry to safe areas by Iraqi security forces.

The  seizure of the city Ramadi by Islamic State exremists prompted tens of thousands of residents to flee their homes, according to the United Nations. 

In order to escape to the capital and other parts of the country, many do so via the Bezebz Bridge. But instead of it being an escape route, it has become a graveyard for those internally displaced Iraqi because many of them have been prevented by the authorties from crossing into other provinces, for fear they have been infiltrated by IS fighters.

Some Sunni Arab politicians and activists have described the move as unconstitutional and discriminatory against the minority community.  

The International Rescue Committee said the restriction was forcing some people to return to conflict areas.  

"Thousands of people fleeing Ramadi are stuck at checkpoints or being denied entry to safe areas," IRC's Syrian crisis response regional director, Mark Schnellbaecher, said.  

"For some people the situation has become so hopeless that they are returning to the conflict in Ramadi."   

Ali Sayel al-Issawi, a community leader in Bezebz, told Al-Araby al-Jadeed that more than 20 displaced Iraqis have died and been buried on both sides of the bridge that spans the Euphrates, including women and children. 

Issawi said the number could increase citing the large number of the elderly, sick people, and children among the refugees.  

Issawi said more displaced people had died and were buried along the desert road linking Ramadi, the capital of the Anbar province, to Amiriyah Fallujah, where the bridge is located. 

He said a humanitarian disaster is unfolding in Anbar, and blamed this on what he said was the heavy-handed conduct of the security forces and on the lack of medical and food aid.  

Meanwhile, four people from one family were killed and ten others were injured in airstrikes by the Iraqi air forces south of Fallujah. A local tribal source told Al-Araby al-Jadeed that the strikes targeted residential neighborhoods in the Nassaf district west of the city.   

The source added that hundreds of fighters from the Popular Mobilization militia have reached the outskirts of Ramadi, coming from Nukhayb, Babel, and Karbala, and gathered around 7 km from the University of Anbar, now under the control of the Islamic State group.

The source said the militias detained dozens of shepherds and farmers from the desert villages between Anbar, Babel, and Karbala, and were taken to an unknown destination.  

The Iraqi Hizballah militia confirmed this, claiming it had detained hundreds of IS fighters in Anbar adding that citywas ' under siege from three sides, Khalidiya in the east, al-Tash in the south, and al-Kilo 35 from the west.”  

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