Up to 50,000 civilians trapped in Raqqa: UN Jul 12, 2017 0 165 12345 AFPGenevaUp to 50,000 civilians remain trapped in the Syrian jihadist stronghold of Raqqa, the UN said Tuesday, warning that supplies of water and other essentials were fast running out.US-backed forces have been closing in on the last redoubt in Syria of the Islamic State group after penetrating its Old City last week, but an estimated 2,500 jihadists are still defending the centre."The UN estimates that between 30,000 and 50,000 people remain trapped in Raqqa city,"UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesman Andrej Mahecic said in Geneva, down from some 100,000 people at the end of June.Mahecic stressed it was hard to be sure about the numbers given the lack of access to Raqqa for UN agencies.But he said:"Availability of food, water, medicine, electricity and other essentials has been dwindling, with the situation rapidly deteriorating."It is imperative that trapped civilians are able to secure safe passage out -- to reach safety, shelter and protection."IS overran Raqqa in early 2014, turning the northern city into the de facto Syrian capital of their so-called"caliphate". With help from a US-led coalition, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters called the Syrian Democratic Forces is waging a fierce assault to oust IS from the city.Raqqa has been without steady running water for several weeks after damage to pipelines by heavy bombardment, including suspected strikes by the US-led coalition.Civilians dehydrated by the blistering summer heat have been venturing out to the Euphrates river and makeshift wells around the city, risking their lives as the fighting intensifies.Activists say they have documented symptoms of water-borne diseases among those who are drinking the river water, including fever and loss of consciousness that it is feared could indicate cholera.The UNHCR spokesman said the agency had managed to complete a first series of humanitarian convoys by road from the province around Raqqa to Qamishli in Syria's northeast.The road had been shut by fighting for nearly two years, forcing UN agencies to use costly airlifts to reach some of the 430,000 people displaced by fighting around Raqqa.Four convoys, totalling 22 trucks, have over the past fortnight transported tents, blankets, jerry cans and other essentials to refugees who have reached Qamishli from Raqqa. Pages 12 POST A COMMENT RELATED ARTICLES Tunisia tries 21 accused in deadly attack on Bardo museum Jul 12, 2017 0 39 Egypt's Sisi says will bring Italian student's killers to justice Jul 12, 2017 0 35 Gaza may already be 'unlivable': UN official Jul 12, 2017 0 37 Turkey detains dozens of tech staff for suspected coup links Reuters ISTANBUL Turkish authorities have ordered the arrest of 105 people working in information technology on suspicion of involvement in an attempted military coup a year ago, state-run Anadolu news agency .. US-backed forces take IS-held village outside Syria's Raqqa AFP Beirut US-backed fighters said they have seized a village where the Islamic State group had a training camp and base near the jihadist stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria. The advance comes as the Syrian Democratic .. Rebels hit Syrian warplane east of Damascus: Monitor Reuters BEIRUT A Western-backed rebel group in Syria and a monitor of the conflict there said rebels fired anti-aircraft machine guns at a Syrian military jet on Tuesday, damaging the plane, about 80 km (50 miles) east of .. Americans, Briton killed fighting against Islamic State AFP Beirut Two Americans and a Briton have died fighting alongside Syrian Kurdish forces as they battle to oust the Islamic State group from its Raqqa stronghold, the forces said Tuesday. The three men volunteering with .. Libya clashes leave four dead east of Tripoli AFP Tripoli Clashes between forces loyal to Libya's unity government and rival fighters east of Tripoli have left four people dead including at least two civilians, the health ministry said. Another 21 people were .. Cholera may hasten famine in Yemen as resources shift: UN Reuters GENEVA Yemen's growing cholera epidemic may accelerate looming famine, as limited resources are shifted away from malnutrition and other programmes to try to contain the disease, the top UN aid official in ..