By Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - More than 4,200 Iraqis from Mosul fled to Syria in May, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday, adding it is gearing up for up to 50,000 people to leave the Islamic State-held city and cross the border. Driving the exodus appear to be reports that IS militants have stepped up executions of men and boys in Falluja since Iraqi government forces launched an offensive to re-take the city, where people are also dying of starvation, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. The Iraqi army launched an offensive on Monday to dislodge the ultra-hardline Sunni militants from Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad.
Russia said on Friday it had intensified air strikes against oil sites controlled by an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, but criticized the United States for refusing to join in. Last Friday Russia proposed to the United States and its allies that they stage joint air strikes on Syrian rebels, including the militant Islamist Nusra Front, who are not observing a ceasefire, but Washington made clear it had little interest in the idea.