Middle East

One-third of Palmyra's 200,000 residents may have fled: U.N.

In this picture released on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 by the website of Islamic State militants, an Islamic State fighter aims his weapon during a battle against the Syrian government forces on a road between Homs and Palmyra, Syria. (The website of Islamic State militants via AP)

GENEVA: Around a third of the 200,000 people living in the Syrian town of Palmyra may have fled in the past few days, during fighting between government forces and Islamic State militants, the U.N. human rights office said on Thursday.

Citing what she said were credible sources, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani in Geneva also said there were reports of government forces preventing civilians leaving until they themselves fled and Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, took control of the city.

"ISIL has reportedly been carrying out door-to-door searches in the city, looking for people affiliated with the government. At least 14 civilians are reported to have been executed by ISIL in Palmyra this week," Shamdasani said in emailed comments.





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