Tens of thousands of civilians have fledSyria’s Idlib province to the Turkish border, after an increase in bombings by Russia-backed government forces, creating a new humanitarian challenge as the winter season arrives.
United Nations observers said on Friday that at least 18,000 people have been displaced in Idlib in just 24 hours, as the deadly bombardments continue.
On Friday morning, at least seven more people were reported killed, after at least 19 civilians were killed on Thursday.
In the last five days, at least 80,000 Syrians have already fled near Turkey’s border, according to reports quoting Syria’s Response Coordination Group.
There are already about one million Syrian refugees living near the border with Turkey.
In September 2018, Turkey and Russia had agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone.
Since then, more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in attacks by the Syrian government forces in the de-escalation zone, according to reports.
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow, reporting from Istanbul, said the Russian-backed Syrian government bombings include air raids, shelling and barrel bomb attacks in the town of Maarat el-Numan in southern Idlib.
Syrians living in the area said the attacks were indiscriminate with hospitals, markets and homes targeted. AFP
On Friday, public anger against the offensive spilled onto the streets, with hundreds of people in Idlib taking to the streets to denounce what they called the neglect of their plight by the International community. They also called for a swift halt to the bombardment.
Witnesses also said that evacuees were targeted as they tried to flee their homes.
In the town of Sarmada, a hub for aid going into Syria and just a few kilometres from the border with Turkey, fighters from the opposition Hay’et Tahrir Sham set up barriers to stop protesters from walking towards the border.