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Human Rights Watch urges fighters in Libya's Benghazi to allow trapped civilians out

FILE - In this Wednesday, April 15, 2015 file photo, Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their meeting in Moscow, Russia. A spokesman for Libya's internationally recognized government said Tuesday, May 26, 2015, that gunmen tried to assassinate al-Thinni on his way to the airport in the eastern city of Tobruk, Libya. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

FILE - In this Wednesday, April 15, 2015 file photo, Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their meeting in Moscow, Russia. A spokesman for Libya's internationally recognized government said Tuesday, May 26, 2015, that gunmen tried to assassinate al-Thinni on his way to the airport in the eastern city of Tobruk, Libya. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)  (The Associated Press)

Human Rights Watch says civilians, including foreign nationals, are trapped in several neighborhoods in Libya's embattled eastern city of Benghazi and is urging fighters there to let them depart without conditions.

In a Tuesday statement, the U.S.-based group says militias and army units have surrounded the downtown areas, where several hundred people are reportedly trapped and not allowed to leave. Some of those trapped were Syrians, Palestinians, and Asian and African nationals.

Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson says that all forces involved must take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and civilian property, and that the Libyan army and militias must allow civilians safe passage and facilitate access to badly needed aid.