An international rights group has urged Myanmar's military to ensure humanitarian aid reaches all civilians who have been affected by clashes in the country's north between the army and an ethnic armed group.

Hostilities between Myanmar's military and guerrillas of the Kachin Independence Army escalated in mid-January to include three townships of Kachin state. The Kachin force is one of the most powerful ethnic militias and has skirmished with the military after a 17-year-old cease-fire pact broke down in 2011. Since then, more than 120,000 people have been displaced in the region along the border with China.

New York-based Human Rights Watch urged in a statement Friday that Myanmar's military allow humanitarian aid access to civilians caught up in the military's current offensive utilizing heavy weapons and airstrikes.