ISIS advances to Turkey-border towns in Syria, 100,000 civilians fear dislocation

A general view shows a damaged street with sandbags used as barriers in Aleppo's Saif al-Dawla district, Syria March 6, 2015. REUTERS/Hosam Katan/File Photo
A general view shows a damaged street with sandbags used as barriers in Aleppo’s Saif al-Dawla district, Syria March 6, 2015. REUTERS/Hosam Katan/File Photo

More than 100,000 Syrians were trapped near the Turkish border as fighters from ISIS advanced on two strategically vital towns.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) evacuated most of its staff and patients from al-Salamah hospital – the organisation’s largest facility in the country – near the town of Azaz in Aleppo province on Friday as ISIS neared.

“We are terribly concerned about the fate of our hospital and our patients, and about the estimated 100,000 people trapped between the Turkish border and active frontlines,” Pablo Marco, MSF operations manager for the Middle East, said in a statement.

“For some months, the frontline has been around seven kilometers away from the hospital. Now it is only three kilometers from al-Salamah town. There is nowhere for people to flee to as the fighting gets closer.”

ISIS has cut off a key road between rebel-held Azaz, close to the Turkish border, and nearby Marea, journalist Maamoun Khateeb told the AFP news agency from Azaz.

“This is a disaster,” Khateeb said, adding that some 15,000 people were now besieged in Marea. Turkey has closed its border to all but seriously wounded Syrians.

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