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Syria Uses Familiar Tactic in Rebel Idlib: Bombing Civilians

The United Nations is demanding an immediate end to indiscriminate attacks against civilians

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Syria, Rebel, Idlib
FILE - Destruction is seen around the Udai hospital following airstrikes on the town of Saraqeb in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, Jan. 29, 2018. VOA

The United Nations is demanding an immediate end to indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in northwest Syria, warning the warring parties their actions might amount to war crimes.

U.N. agencies say an intense military escalation by Russian-backed Syrian forces and armed rebels in northwest Syria is having a catastrophic impact on the civilian population. Agencies confirm at least 160 civilians have been killed and hundreds more wounded in fighting over recent weeks.

They say 3 million people in Idlib need protection and 300,000 civilians who have fled their homes in the past two months are in imminent danger.

 

Spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Jens Laerke says civilians and civilian infrastructure are coming under daily attack by airstrikes, artillery shelling and barrel bombs.

Syria, Rebel, Idlib
FILE – Damage is seen at a hospital after an airstrike in Deir al-Sharqi village in Idlib province, Syria, April 27 2017. VOA

“Since the 28th of April, there have been 25 confirmed attacks on health care in the northwest, including on 24 health facilities and one ambulance,” he said. “Two of the attacked health facilities were hit more than once, and at least six health workers have been killed.”

Laerke says health care facilities are fully protected under international humanitarian law, and it is illegal to target them. Few health facilities remain intact to care for the sick and wounded, he told VOA.

“Already before the recent months of escalation, the status of health care in Syria at large, and in particular in Idlib, was already appalling,” he said. “Even though those facilities have not been hit, they fear that they may be hit. So, the doctors, the health care personnel are leaving, the patients are not going to those hospitals. Understandably.”

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Laerke says aid agencies are providing food and health services through mobile clinics to people who are newly displaced in northwest Syria. In addition, many schools in the region have been attacked, he says, so catch-up classes are being provided for thousands of children who have been out of school since May. (VOA)

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Trump Tells Syria, Russia to Stop Bombing Rebel- Held Idlib

Idlib is in northwestern Syria along the Turkish border

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Plumes of smoke rise from a location, said to be Khan al Subul, Idlib province, Syria, following an airstrike, in this still image taken from a video uploaded May 28, 2019. VOA

President Donald Trump is demanding Syria, Russia and Iran stop “bombing the hell out of Idlib province in Syria.”

Trump said in a late Sunday tweet that the bombings “indiscriminately killing many innocent civilians. The world is watching this butchery. What is the purpose? What will it get you? STOP!”

Idlib is in northwestern Syria along the Turkish border. It is the last major part of Syria still controlled by rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

Rebels and their families who surrendered other parts of Syria under the threat of a bloody offensive have crowded into Idlib looking for safety.

Trump, Bombing, Syria, Russia
Displaced Syrians gather during a protest calling for an end to airstrikes, in Idlib province, Syria, May 31, 2019. VOA

The rebels, who still hold the province, have so far refused to give up. Syrian and Russian forces and, as Trump says, “to a lesser extent” Iran, have sharply increased their bombardment and rocket attacks on Idlib.

The United Nations and humanitarian groups say an all-out assault against Idlib could lead to a bloodbath and a massive refugee crisis.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said last week the latest violence against Idlib has killed about 950 people.

Elsewhere in Syria, the Observatory says a car bomb in the pro-Turkish rebel-held city of Azaz killed at least 14 people Sunday and wounded more than 20.

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Witnesses tell the monitor the bomb went off as people were leaving a mosque after evening prayers and meal breaking the daily Ramadan fast.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast, which also burned or blew out the windows of more than a dozen nearby stores.

The area has been the target of several other recent terrorist bombings.

Azaz is the main city in the part of Aleppo controlled by pro-Turkish rebels, who drove out Islamic State while keeping Kurdish forces out of the area as well. (VOA)