Syria: 40,000 displaced as fighting rages near Hama

Heavy clashes between rebels and government forces in past week have displaced thousands, mostly women and children.

UN says the recently displaced are at great risk as nearby front lines continue to shift [Reuters]

Nearly 40,000 people, mostly women and children, have been displaced over the past week by fighting northwest of Syria’s Hama city, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Since the rebel offensive began in the area a week ago, people have fled south and west to Hama city and neighbouring districts in Homs, Latakia and Tartous, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement.

“Some internally displaced people are at risk of further displacement as the front lines continue to shift,” it said.

Rebels led by the hardline Tahrir al-Sham alliance – formed by a group that once fought as al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria – launched attacks on March 21 with the aim of retaking areas captured by government forces in 2016 and pushed into Hama city.

At least 10 different rebel groups battling as part of the Free Syrian Army are also engaged in heavy fighting in northern Hama.

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