Russian and Syrian offensive into opposition-held province began in December
Some 350,000 Syrians, mostly women and children, have fled Idlib province since early December, when Russian and Syrian government forces launched a new offensive against the last region held by opposition rebels. Refugees are concentrated in areas of Syria on the border with Turkey, the UN said on Thursday.
Living conditions in Idlib are deteriorating due to increasing military aggression, according to the latest report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Russian fighter jets and Syrian artillery shell towns and villages with the support of pro-Iranian militant groups, trying to get rid of the opposition.
“This latest wave of displacement is exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation in Idlib,” David Swanson, UN Regional Representative for Syria based in Amman, told Reuters..
Russian and Syrian planes resumed bombing of settlements in the opposition enclave two days after the start of the truce, which Russia and Turkey agreed on the day before.. The ceasefire officially entered into force last Sunday.
The Russian Defense Ministry on Thursday denied press reports of the bombing of civilian targets in Idlib. Moscow announced that the Russian military had not made any flights since January 9, when an agreement on a ceasefire was reached, RIA Novosti reports..
Locals and rescuers say dozens of towns and villages are now in ruins after weeks of intense aerial bombardment..
Dozens of hospitals and schools have been destroyed in a Russian-led military campaign, international humanitarian aid agencies report..
Karen Abuzaid, a UN war crimes investigator in Syria, told reporters in Geneva that many destroyed or closed schools in opposition-held areas are now being used as shelters for residents who fled their homes due to the wave of violence..
Earlier, about 400 thousand more people fled from Idlib to the Turkish border.
Rescuers and local residents said on Thursday Russian and Syrian aircraft bombed the devastated city of Maarat al-Numan, one of the province’s main centers, which sits on a main highway held by refugees. On Wednesday, the bombing killed at least 21 civilians, of whom 19 were victims of the bombing of a market in the city of Idlib.
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