Since the beginning of the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria, more than 70,000 people have been displaced within 48 hours, according to UN figures. Most people have fled the regions of Ras al-Ain and Tall Abjad, according to the UN World Food Program (WFP) in Geneva.
The organizations are deeply concerned about the escalation of violence. The Turkish government has pledged to do everything it can to protect civilians and prevent harm to them, said the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock in Ankara.
The UN Human Rights Office, on the other hand, reported "disturbing reports" of ground attacks by Turkish troops or groups close to the Turkish military. Among other things, the water supply, dams, power plants and oil fields were hit, a spokesman said. After a Turkish air strike was reportedly the water supply in the Aluk region collapsed.
Reports of high crime and violence
Regions in northeastern Syria, which have long been controlled by Turkish forces or allied groups, such as Afrin or al-Bab, have reports of high crime and violence. People accused of support for Kurdish groups would be abused and abducted, houses would be looted. The fate of many civilians is unknown. The International Committee of the Red Cross spoke of thousands of prisoners in northeastern Syria.
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In Al-Rakka, local authorities have set up four centers for displaced persons, the WFP reported. The WFP has already provided food to 650,000 people in the region for months, including 580,000 in Kurdish-controlled areas.
"The military operations in northeastern Syria are likely to exacerbate the already strained humanitarian situation," warned Najat Rochdi, who is responsible for humanitarian affairs in the office of the UN-Syria representative. All appealed to the local actors and governments that influence them to protect civilians.
Putin warns: IS fighters could flee the offensive
Vladimir Putin fears a strengthening of the terrorist militia "Islamic State" (IS) in view of the Turkish military offensive in northern Syria. Fighters were still guarded by the Kurds, said Russian President. When the army of Turkey invades, "the Kurds will leave these camps". Then the terrorists could "disperse", according to Putin agency Interfax. "I'm not sure if the Turkish army can quickly take control of it."
The Turkish government wants to set up a so-called security zone under its sole control in the Syrian border area, from which all Kurdish militias are to withdraw. She wants to settle there also millions of Syrian refugees who currently live in Turkey. According to Turkish ideas, the zone is to cover a strip along the border, which extends about 30 kilometers deep into Syrian territory and extends from the Euphrates River east to the Iraqi border.
Moscow supports President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war, while Ankara supports the rebels. The Foreign Ministry in Moscow had recently called Turkey's military offensive a legitimate step by Ankara to protect its own borders.