Middle East

Islamic State conflict: Anbar displaced allowed into Baghdad

Iraqis displaced by the violence in Anbar province cross a bridge over the River Euphrates in the Bzeibez area (20 May 2015) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Thousands of the displaced people flooded over a bridge in the Bzeibez area on Wednesday

Iraq's government has allowed people displaced by the violence in the western province of Anbar to enter Baghdad, after waiving restrictions.

More than 40,000 people fled their homes after Islamic State militants seized the city of Ramadi on Friday.

Many were stranded on open land until being allowed to cross a bridge over the River Euphrates on Wednesday.

The Shia-led government is concerned IS militants might hide among those fleeing the Sunni-dominated region.

But several people are reported to have died of dehydration or exhaustion while being kept away.

"The Iraqi government, they've established checkpoints at some of the main entry points into the city because they're very worried about the potential for hostile elements to enter Baghdad," Lise Grande, the UN Deputy Special Representative for Iraq, told the BBC.

"At one of the checkpoints on one of the entry bridges there are up to 6,000 people who have been forced to sleep outside," she added.

Athal al-Fahdawi, an Anbar provincial council member, later told the Associated Press that thousands of the displaced people were being allowed to cross a bridge in the Bzeibez area.