September 24, 2021

U.N. calls for protecting civilians in northeast Syria


FILE PHOTO: United Nations Syria humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis attends an interview with Reuters on the humanitarian situation in Nort West Syria in Geneva, Switzerland, June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) – Civilians must be spared in any Turkish military operation in northeast Syria, where the United Nations hopes that displacement and atrocities can be prevented, a senior U.N. aid official said on Monday.

The United States said it was pulling troops from northeast Syria, in a major shift which clears the way for a Turkish military offensive against Kurdish-led forces and hands Turkey responsibility for thousands of Islamic State captives.

Panos Moumtzis, U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, speaking hours later, told reporters in Geneva that had drawn up contingency plans to provide aid. “We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst,” he said, adding that the U.N. had seen a “bitter history” of safe zones in places like Srebrenica.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Toby Chopra

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