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.