Sun Mar 5, 2017 09:35AM
Displaced Syrians are seen in Kharufiyah near Manbij, Syria, March 4, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Displaced Syrians are seen in Kharufiyah near Manbij, Syria, March 4, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says a total of 66,000 people have been displaced due to fresh fighting in northern Syria, where Turkey has been carrying out operations. 

The agency said on Sunday that 39,766 people have been forced out of their homes in the Syrian city of al-Bab and the nearby town of Tadif which Turkish forces are trying to control.

Displaced people have fled north to militant-controlled areas where "high contamination" of unexploded bombs and booby traps planted by retreating terrorists is further complicating the situation, it added.

Turkey launched a major military incursion into Syria in August 2016 in a move denounced by Damascus as a breach of its sovereignty.

Ankara claimed at the time that its military campaign was aimed at stopping Kurdish advances and driving away Daesh from the Turkish-Syrian border but since then it has occupied at least two major Syrian cities.

Turkey has lately announced plans to advance into the Syrian city of Manbij after seizing al-Bab. Manbij is currently held by the so-called Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed outfit of mostly Kurdish militants.  

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Turkish-backed Syria militants walk over rubble in al-Bab, Syria, February 23, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Additionally, OCHA estimated that 26,000 people have left their homes east of al-Bab, where Syrian government forces are engaged in an offensive against Daesh.  

The Syrian army troops and allied fighters have been fighting against different foreign-backed terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the Arab country since 2011.

More than half of Syria’s population have been displaced over the past six years.