Civilians and ISIS ship out of Raqqa ahead of U.S. airstrikes

Middle East Eye reports: Huge numbers of people have continued fleeing areas of Syria controlled by militants from the self-styled Islamic State (IS), in advance of planned US-led airstrikes on IS strongholds.

Thousands have joined a mass exodus that began on Wednesday, as US President Obama announced in a televised speech that his plan for confronting the IS threat includes launching airstrikes on its militants within Syrian territory.

Residents have been leaving towns in IS strongholds in droves, fearing that the bombardment will cause civilian casualties as well as targeting militants.

Ferat al-Wafa, head of Broadcasters Without Borders who hails from al-Raqqa province, told Anadolu that residents of the area, “who buried around 50 martyrs killed by Assad’s planes on Thursday, are living every day in a state of fear.”

“The city of Raqqa has seen an active wave of fleeing to rural areas, which they see as being safer, in order to be further from the sites where IS are amassed.”

According to Wafa this wave of flight will exacerbate an “appalling” health situation in the city, where several of the hospitals are out of service. [Continue reading…]

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