Heavy Fighting as ISIS Attacks Rebels in North Syria Town of Marea

Growing Civilian Exodus, But Few Places Left for Them to Go

by Jason Ditz, May 29, 2016

The ISIS offensive into the “Azaz corridor,” in northern Aleppo Province continued over the weekend, with their forces pushing into the key town of Marea on Saturday, sparking a heavy round of clashes over the town, near the Turkish border.

The fighting added to the civilian exodus, with more heading to Azaz as well as the empty area along the border.  Around 15,000 are estimated to have remained in Marea, however, with many apparently decided that there aren’t a lot of practical places to flee to.

That’s because Marea itself is just another stopping point along the road to Azaz, which is already awash in refugees from the offensive over the past few weeks. With Turkey having closed the border, the options for civilians are rapidly going from few to none.

The rebel coalition within the area doesn’t appear to have many options left, with ISIS forces in Aleppo not facing many challenges in recent weeks, as the Kurdish YPG has shifted its focus to the Raqqa Province, and the Syrian military forces have mostly been bogged down fighting al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front further south.

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