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Hundreds of people fleeing from Raqqa and Tabqa to SDF-controlled areas every day

The SDF says hundreds of people flee to its territory daily, adding to the thousands of people already displaced in northern Syria since March 30

The Syrian Democratic Forces said that hundreds of people are fleeing to its territory in northern Syria every day, adding to the more than 7,000 people already displaced from villages around Tabqa and Raqqa since March 30.

People are being sent to IDP camps and makeshift shelters across the region.

We’re monitoring developments in this post. The latest updates are at the bottom of this post.

April 14

The UN’s CCCM project published its weekly IDP movement figures. It counted 1,574 people displaced within Raqqa province, 1,192 who moved to Ayn Issa, and 906 to Manbij in the week to April 9.

ANF said a further 200 people from Tabqa, Raqqa and Iraq have were displaced to SDF areas near Raqqa on April 13.

ANHA also said that 200 people arrived in SDF areas of Raqqa.

Raqqa24 said that the SDF had arrested of dozens of civilians who fled from areas near Tabqa, and forcing them into closed camps.

Wrath of Euphrates spokeswoman Cihan Shekh Ahmad visited displaced people in Ayn Issa camp, ANHA reported.

April 13

ANHA reported that the Rojava Organization in coordination with the al-Mawadah charity distributed 3,500 baskets of food to people in al-Karamah town, east of Raqqa city.

Ali Silo, a member of al-Mawadah, said thousands of al-Raqqa people have moved the town.

According to ANHA, hundreds of people from around Raqqa are living in the camp in  al-Karamah camp, which it said opened at the end of March.

April 12

ANF reported on April 10 that people continue to flee to SDF-held territory in northern Syria. The people are mainly from Raqqa, Tabqa and Iraq’s Mosul and Tal Afar regions.

According to ANF, 150 people, mostly women and children, reached SDF territory in the Raqqa region on April 9. SDF fighters are moving the people to safe zones and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and Concern Worldwide are also aiding displaced people.

A spokesperson for Concern Worldwide confirmed to Grasswire that the organisation is working on the ground in northern Syria, but that they cannot disclose specific locations in order to maintain the safety of staff.

“In the areas we are working, we are addressing the basic needs of people fleeing conflict by supporting the provision of clean water and good sanitation, and distributing emergency supplies,” the spokesperson said.

ANF interviewed Îhsan Mihemed Dakhil Ihsanoglû, an Iraqi Turkmen from Tal Afar in Iraq who said they gave all their possessions to smugglers to get to northern Syria.

SDF General Relations Committee member Nazdar Sileman said they had received a total of 8,000 displaced people.

On April 12, ANF reported that 160 people from villages west of Tabqa arrived in a camp for displaced people in Manbij, and that most of the people were from the Maskaneh area. ANHA also reported the arrival of 160 people, and confirmed that MSF were present.

Earlier, Syrian media reported that a boat carrying around 40 people fleeing Islamic State sank in the Tabqa Dam Reservoir on April 8. Seven bodies were recovered. The people were from Dabsi Faraj village, in the Maskaneh area.

April 10

A spokesperson for the coalition told Grasswire: “We are aware that there are IDPs flowing outside of Tabqah; however, the Coalition has no definite numbers or knowledge of where they are settling.”

Raqqa24 said five civilians who were trying to reach SDF territory were killed when a landmine exploded on the “Shnina bridge” road, north of Raqqa. We believe the bridge is one that crosses the irrigation canal that surrounds Raqqa.

April 7

A coalition spokeperson tells Grasswire: “We are not aware of … the significant movement of IDPs between the city and the north channel of the Tabqah Dam.”

April 6

The SDF published a video of displaced people being evacuated from the south bank of the Euphrates near Safsafah to the SDF-controlled north bank.

In the video, an SDF commander asks people to leave their village so that they will be safe if IS attacks, saying that they can return once it is safe.

Raqqa SL published an image of what it said was a camp for displaced people from the villages of Al-Safsafa displaced as a result of the fighting between SDF and IS.

#الرقة_تذبح_بصمت#Raqqa #Syria #ISIS #YPGمخيم للنازحين من أهالي قرى الصفصافة النازحين نتيجة المعارك الدائرة بين قسد وتنظيم #داعش.

Posted by ‎الرقة تذبح بصمت Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently‎ on Thursday, April 6, 2017

Arab24 news agency published video shot on April 5 at the school in Mahmudli, north of the Tabqa dam, that is being used to house displaced people from the Raqqa and Tabqa areas.

In the first interview, a displaced person said: “We have gone through a lot from bills, the dangers of war and danger of snipers and we barely got our kids and families with us.”

In the second, a man said: “We went through a lot from the time we left, when there are clashes. There isn’t any bread or medicine for children. I have two children and I don’t know where to take them. We ran away, there isn’t anybody to take care of them.”

April 5

Arab24 news agency published video shot on April 4 of displaced people in Ayn Issa IDP camp.

In one interview, a man from Al Bab said: “I have been on the road for two days. We went through a smuggling route and I sold my car in order to pay $1000$ for 8 people.”

April 4

The SDF released a statement and video of displaced people near Suwaydiya, around 3km north of the Tabqa dam. It said that hundreds of people from Raqqa and Tabqa were reaching SDF territory every day, fleeing Islamic State oppression.


Reuters’ Rodî Saîd reported that a camp near Ayn Issa, north of Raqqa, is now home to 3,000 internally displaced people .

People at the camp said Islamic State checkpoints around Raqqa are disappearing because fighters are leaving for the front lines or withdrawing to the south.

One man who escaped Raqqa on April 1 told Saîd he paid a smuggler $2,100 to guide his family out of the city and through agricultural land filled with mines.

April 2

ANHA said 150 additional people arrived in SDF-controlled areas on April 2. According to ANHA, the displaced are being brought to a cotton storage area near Ayn Issa and Al-Jurniyah village, which is to the west of Tabqa..


The YPG press office published a video shot north of Tabqa. It claimed that 2,000 additional people had been displaced. We haven’t seen other evidence to support this, but it may be referring to March 31, when the SDF said 2,000 additional people had been displaced.

The Arab24 news agency published video of IDPs shot near Suwaydiya Saghirah.

April 1


March 31

The SDF said on March 31 that the number of IDPs that have fled to SDF-controlled territory north of the Tabqa dam has risen to 7,000.

It said thousands of people from al-Yamamah, Widyan (Bir Khuwaym) and al-Tabqa town “escaped from the oppression of the terrorists and their areas of control.”

AFP published a video containing interviews with displaced people north of Tabqa. The video said they were staying in a school. We geo-located the school to Mahmudi (or al-Mahmudli), which is around 14km north of the Jaabar Arch, where IDPs were filmed and photographed on March 30.

March 30

Up to 5,000 people fled Islamic State-controlled areas around Tabqa, near Raqqa, to Suwaydiya Saghirah, a small village in SDF territory just north of the Tabqa dam on March 30.

Images and video posted on social media showed a large number people in trucks and tractors, on motorcycles and on foot passing the SDF-controlled north channel inlet of the Tabqa dam, after apparently crossing the dam from IS-held areas. Some were driving animals.

A substantial portion of the imagery showed people at the distinctive Jaabar Arch in Suwaydiya Saghirah, less than 3km from the SDF-controlled north channel inlet of the dam which IS shelled on March 29. Images also showed people at that part of the dam.

The SDF said 4,800 people had fled to their territory. Earlier, ANF said the figure could be as high as 5,000.


Grasswire has contacted several humanitarian agencies about the wider Tabqa area. A spokesperson for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees told us that the agency doesn’t have adequate access at this point to give details of the humanitarian situation there.

Displacements caused by flooding?

Activists from Raqqa SL said some people were displaced from al-Yamamah town, on the north bank of the Euphrates “because of Al Balikh [or Al Rey] canal flood” after spillways were opened on March 29 at the north channel inlet to reduce pressure on the Tabqa dam. They said flooding cut a number of roads including the Salhabiyat al-Gharbiyah to Raqqa road.

On April 7, a spokesperson for the US-led coalition told Grasswire that imagery does not support activists claims that there has been flooding or displacement of people caused by the release of water from the reservoir via the SDF-controlled north channel inlet.

“We are not aware of any flooding or the significant movement of IDPs between the city and the north channel of the Tabqah Dam,” the spokesperson said.

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