Urban warfare is taking root in conflicts across Syria and Iraq: ICRC

Vastavam web: Urban warfare is taking root in conflicts across the Middle East, with five times more civilians in Syria and Iraq killed in cities than in rural areas over the past three years, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday.”This is all the more alarming as new offensives (against Islamic State militants) get under way in cities like Raqqa in Syria or intensify in Mosul, Iraq,” said Robert Mardini, ICRC regional director for the Middle East.”Taiz remains partly besieged just as daily air strikes and shelling continue to terrify residents,” he told a news conference to launch an ICRC report called “I Saw My City Die”.
Battles raging in cities, which are “today the new normal unfortunately”, damage vital infrastructure and disrupt basic services including health care, Mardini said.”The impacts of warfare are quickly multiplied with exponential consequences. If a power line is hit, (there is) no water, no electricity, no waste water treatment. There are contamination outbreaks and massive challenges to run hospitals,” he said.Yemen’s health system has all but collapsed, compounded by a deadly outbreak of cholera, a water-borne disease that can kill within hours, the ICRC said.
“In the last 6 weeks, 1 in 200 Yemenis have contracted cholera while almost 1,000 have died. The outbreak has not seen its peak yet. It’s just accelerating,” Maria Del Pilar Bauza Moreno, ICRC health coordinator in Yemen, said by video from Sanaa. More than 5,000 new cases of cholera were reported each day last week in Yemen, bringing the total to some 135,000.