Syrian regime ‘begins bombing last rebel stronghold in Idlib killing 17 civilians including kids’ as fears grow of Aleppo-style mass-slaughter
FORCES battling the regime of Bashar al-Assad are boxed into their last enclave amid fears of an Aleppo-style bloodbath among trapped civilians.
Syrian government forces have been shelling and bombing Idlib, in the northwest of the war torn country, with at least 17 civilians killed over the past 24 hours, a war monitoring group said today.
The government forces’ artillery fire targeted several locations and about half of those killed were under 18 years old, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The area is home to millions of refugees who fled the rebel held city of Aleppo, which was last year reduced to rubble by warplanes from Russia, which is backing the dictator’s regime.
The eight year civil war has killed nearly 400,000 people, according to estimates, in scenes reminiscent of the urban devastation of World War 2.
It also echoes the siege of Aleppo in 2016 and 2017 whereby thousands died as beautiful buildings which stood proud for centuries were reduced to dust and rubble by hundreds of air raids.
MILLIONS IN LINE OF FIRE
The northwest, including Idlib province and parts of Hama and Aleppo provinces, is home to about three million people, half of whom have already been internally displaced, the United Nations says.
Early this year, the jihadist groups in the northwest seized most of the enclave from other rebel factions.
The district had been subject to a ceasefire agreement struck in September between Russia and Turkey to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.
Moscow is the government’s strongest ally while Turkey backs some rebel groups.
Last week the human rights organisation Amnesty International highlighted six incidents where blood banks, clinics and bakeries had been destroyed in air raids and artillery attacks.
Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, said: “Eight years into the crisis, the Syrian government continues to show utter disregard for the laws of war and the lives of civilians.
“Deliberate attacks on civilians and on civilian objects, including hospitals and other medical facilities, and indiscriminate attacks that kill or injure civilians are war crimes.
“Russia and Turkey, as the key backers of the parties to the conflict, should heed the warning of the UN and ensure that the imminent offensive on Idlib prioritises the protection of civilians and does not exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.”