Turkey is continuing its assault against Kurdish forces in northern Syria for a second day, pounding the region with air strikes and an artillery bombardment that raised columns of black smoke in a border town and sent panicked civilians scrambling to get out.
International medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) say it is concerned for the fate of the civilian population in northeast Syria.
“This escalation can only exacerbate the trauma that the people of Syria have already endured through years of war and of living in precarious conditions,” said Robert Onus, MSF emergency manager for Syria.
“With healthcare services already struggling to meet the needs of the population, displacement and injuries caused by fighting are likely to put additional pressure on the existing limited resources in hospitals.”
Tal Abyad hospital, which is supported by MSF, has completely closed as most of the medical staff left with the families.
The teams have relocated to address needs in other parts of the region.
"Our staff in Tal Abyad witnessed the town, that was once filled with life, become deserted,” said Onus.
“After eight years of war, the Syrian people have once again been forced to leave their homes and belongings behind in order to seek safety.”
MSF is concerned that the many thousands of women and children living in camps such as Al Hol and Ain Issa are also now particularly vulnerable, as humanitarian organisations have been forced to suspend or limit their operations.
This could leave thousands of people without access to critical relief, and with no resolution in sight.
MSF is calling all warring parties in northeast Syria to ensure the protection of civilians, including health workers and their patients.
- Additional reporting by Press Association