Daesh Sets Up Mines, Booby-Traps Against Civilians Fleeing Raqqa as Battle Rages

© REUTERS / Rodi SaidSmoke rises from Raqqa, Syria July 28, 2017
Smoke rises from Raqqa, Syria July 28, 2017 - Sputnik International
Mustafa Balli a media relations representative of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spoke to Sputnik Arabic regarding the situation in Raqqa where fierce battles continue to rage between Syrian forces and the Daesh terrorists.

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters, raises a flag of the SDF near the village of Bir Fawaz, 20 km north of Raqqa, during their offensive towards the Islamic State (IS) group's Syrian stronghold as part of the third phase retake the city and its surroundings, on February 8, 2017 - Sputnik International
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According to Balli, a large number of civilians have been killed during clashes as  Daesh continues carrying out attacks using mined vehicles and setting up mined traps. 

“The terrorists use civilians as human shields. They set up mines and other explosive devices on the roads, which civilians use to try and escape. Thus, all those who try to leave the city are in mortal danger,” Balli said.

The representative also stressed that the SDF forces are working diligently to evacuate civilians from the territories where fierce battles are raging.

“By now, the SDF units have managed to save tens of thousands of civilians from the areas where the clashes are taking place and transfer them to safe areas which are under the control of civil councils. Here, the local residents are provided with everything necessary for life,” Balli concluded.

Earlier, it was reported that thousands of children who remain trapped in Raqqa are cut off from lifesaving assistance as their food supplies are quickly running out, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Syria, Fran Equiza said in a statement on Friday.

"According to reports UNICEF is receiving from inside Raqqa, several thousand children continue to be trapped in the city, caught in the direct line of fire," Equiza stated. "With no access for humanitarian agencies, the city is completely cut off from lifesaving assistance. Children and families have little or no safe water while food supplies are running out fast."

Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces advance toward Islamic State positions in Seif Al Dawla district of Raqqa, Syria August 9, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Equiza met with displaced children in the camps of Areesha, Ein Issa and Mabrouka and despite the horrors witnessed, he characterized the children as "hopeful" and called on the parties to the conflict to ensure safe passage for all families wishing to leave Raqqa.

On Thursday, advisor to the UN special envoy for Syria on humanitarian issues, Jan Egeland, urged the conflicting parties to consider taking a humanitarian pause and allow civilians to escape from the Raqqa neighborhoods held by Daesh.

Raqqa has been controlled by Daesh since 2013. In June, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) supported by the US-led coalition began an operation to liberate the city from the terrorists.

The coalition's activities however, have not been authorized by President Bashar Assad’s government or the UN Security Council.

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