Human Rights Watch warned Wednesday of the dangers civilians face from landmines placed by Islamic State fighters as battles continue to recapture control of areas in Syria and Iraq.
The group said its investigation in the northern Syrian city of Manbij turned up the names up 69 people killed by the explosives, and hospital staff reported treating hundreds of people hurt by mines.
Islamic State militants invaded Manbij in 2014 and the area was recaptured in August.
HRW called on authorities and international organizations to raise awareness about the threat to those who are returning to their homes in recaptured areas. The group also said there should be efforts to clear residential areas of mines, and for countries bordering Syria to help de-mining companies get into the country.
“ISIS mined virtually everything, quite literally, the kitchen sink before they left,” said Ole Solvang, HRW’s deputy emergencies director. “These explosive devices have already killed and injured hundreds of civilians, but these numbers will increase even further as more people return to their homes.”
Operation to re-capture Mosul
Iraqi forces are engaged in a major operation to try to recapture Mosul, the country’s second largest city.
On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said an offensive aimed at retaking Islamic State’s de facto capital in Raqqa, Syria will “overlap” with the Mosul effort.