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Aleppo exodus as fighting engulfs northern Syria

Syrians fleeing Aleppo are trapped between Turkey's closed borders and deadly fighting [AFP]

Date of publication: 21 April, 2016

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Tens of thousands of Syrians fled their homes as fighting between a variety of forces in the north of the country intensified, and regime war planes bomb Aleppo.


Tens of thousands of Syrians have been forced from their homes as heavy fighting engulfs northern Syria.

Bombing and fighting in Aleppo between a variety of factions has made 40,000 new refugees in recent weeks, despite a ceasefire officially being in place.

Still, the relative peace elsewhere in the country has led to Kurdish forces, the Syrian regime, rebels and the Islamic State group fighting pitched battles in the north to expand their territories in this strategically significant area.

"We are extremely concerned at the intensification of fighting in northern Syria and its impact on civilians, as well as humanitarian delivery to the area, and continue to monitor the situation closely," the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

The office also reported that most of the refugees have been pushed eastwards towards the strategically vital border town of Azaz, where "humanitarian needs are expected to rise exponentially".

Fighting around Aleppo has intensified in recent days, as regime forces intensified attempts retake the city that was Syria's most populous prior to the war.

The areas surrounding the city have also witnessed an escalation in attacks by the Islamic State group, who captured a number of opposition held villages last week.

Fierce fighting between the rebels and IS continued on Thursday.

The upscale in fighting has led to the main opposition group to suspend their formal involvement in peace talks.

Idlib Airstrike
The Syrian opposition withdrew from the Geneva peace
talks after governemnt air raids on two markets in Idlib [Getty]


Despite accusations of truce violations, Damascus maintains that its forces only target Islamist militants who are not part of the agreement.

With Aleppo city divided between government and rebel controlled zones, aid agencies have faced an immensely difficult task in trying to deliver much needed supplies.

According to the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontiers [MSF], there are now more than 100,000 people trapped on the Syrian side of the Turkish border, while Ankara only allows the seriously injured to cross into Turkey.

"Yet again we see tens of thousands of people forced to flee but with almost nowhere safe to go - trapped in this bloody, brutal conflict," said Muskilda Zancada, MSF's mission chief in Syria in a statement.

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