Ramadi refugees stranded outside of Baghdad

Baghdad halts arrival of over 40,000 Ramadi refugees at ‘Bzebiz’ bridge, fearing ISIS militants could enter the city with the fleeing families

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Iraqi capital has closed off the last remaining safe route between Ramadi and Baghdad, the “Bzebiz” bridge, keeping about 40,000 refugees stranded outside of the capital.

The Iraqi government voiced concerns that militants belonging to the ISIS could blend in the crowds of refugees and infiltrate the city.

The United Nations has also expressed concern over the deteriorating situation at the bridge, “People are telling us that they have been walking for three or four days in temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius to get to safety. They are exhausted and dehydrated. Many are sleeping out in the open. Their suffering is unimaginable,” said Salah Noori, head of programs at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

At least five refugees have died from exhaustion in the vicinity of the bridge.

ISIS killed up to 500 people - both Iraqi civilians and soldiers - and forced 115,000 to flee from their homes after they captured the city of Ramadi, according to Anbar Provincial Council.

The group also captured the last border crossing between Iraq and Syria in their latest advance through “al Tanf” village on Friday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), ISIS has control over 50 percent of Syrian lands by now.

About 3,000 the popular mobilisation forces - an alliance of mainly Shia militias formed last year after the failure of the Iraqi army to stop ISIS - were deployed to help recapture Ramadi, along with the Iraqi army backed by US-led coalition air strikes.

Meanwhile Senator John McCain criticized the US president’s comments over Ramadi in an interview with CNN. Obama had said that ISIS did not defeat the US-led coalition in Ramadi, but that there had only been a tactical setback. 

McCain says that the US air strikes on Ramadi are gradually proving ineffective, and that in time the deployment of ground troops will be inevitable. 

"It’s strange that the US president repeatedly repeats these words while thousands of people are dying and dead bodies are thrown on the streets as well as executions and beheadings."

“I think that the time has come to send ground troops, about ten thousand"

McCain said that 75 percent of the air raids return to their bases without hitting their targets, because there is no one on the ground to give them pointers, and without direction the air strikes are useless.

TRTWorld and agencies