New York(August 25, 2017): The United Nations has called for a pause in the fighting for the ISIL-held Syrian city of Raqqa to let thousands of civilians escape the battle.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters backed by US-led coalition fighter jets, has retaken 60 percent of Raqqa from the group.
Yet, about 20,000 civilians remain trapped in five ISIL-controlled neighbourhoods, according to UN estimates.
Jan Egeland, head of the UN’s humanitarian task force for Syria, said that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) armed group was doing its “absolute best to use civilians as human shields”.
“Now is the time to think of possibilities, pauses or otherwise, that might facilitate the escape of civilians, knowing that Islamic State fighters are doing their absolute best to use them as human shields,” he said in the Swiss city of Geneva.