The delivery of humanitarian aid to half a million displaced civilians in north eastern Syria is under threat from fighting between Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters near the border, a medical charity has warned.
Doctors Without Borders is “extremely concerned” because the fighting threatens its only cross-border supply routes between the two countries – the Fishkhabur crossing. Scattered clashes erupted in recent weeks as Iraqi forces retook disputed territory from the Kurds, part of a crisis sparked by last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
Federal forces sought to regain control of the country’s borders from forces loyal to the Kurdish regional government. At least 11 civilians were killed in government bombings of a rebel-held enclave north of the capital Damascus, said Syrian activists.
Two women, a child and a media activist working for local TV were among those killed in the Saqba and Hamouriyah districts, reported the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Eastern Ghouta Media Centre.
And UN officials warned the Ghouta suburbs, from which images emerged of starving children and adults, face a humanitarian crisis. Syria’s state TV said one person was killed and several others injured in east Damascus after shelling from rebel-held areas.
Eastern Ghouta, north of Damascus, is part of a de-escalation zone declared earlier this year in Syria. But violence amid a tight government siege has persisted in the area, which has faced intense government shelling for four years.
Meanwhile, Islamic State militants released 25 apparent hostages as they retreated from a town in the central Homs province, said the Syrian government. Homs governor Talal Barazi said IS still holds another 19 people originally from Qaryatayn.
Government forces and allied troops regained control of Qaryatayn last week, chasing the militants out.
The militants left a trail of blood behind them, killing at least 70 residents. Bodies were found strewn in the streets and in ditches. At the time, activists said more remain unaccounted for.
It was not immediately clear why the militants released the 25 hostages.