By Burak Karacaoglu and Esref Musa
IDLIB, Syria (AA) – Some 25,000 civilians were displaced in northwestern Syria last week after the attacks of regime and Russia on the Idlib de-escalation zone, according to a Syrian NGO on Saturday.
Mohammad Halaj, director of Syria’s Response Coordination Group, told Anadolu Agency that thousands of civilians were displaced in the first week of December due to attacks by Bashar al-Assad regime forces, Iran-backed terror groups and Russia.
Halaj underscored that the humanitarian crisis in Idlib was getting worse, and added: “Around 425,000 civilians are living in Maarat al-Nouman, Saraqib and Ariha districts and rural areas. If the attacks target these places with the same violence, the number of displaced will rise more.”
He added that the regime forces and Russia also target hospitals, schools, mosques, civilian defense centers and houses to prevent the return of the people.
Most of the displaced people are taking shelter in places neighboring Reyhanli, Turkey’s southern border province of Hatay, as well as areas liberated from terrorists during Turkey’s anti-terror offensives, Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch.
Turkey and Russia agreed in September 2018 to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
However, the consistent violations by the Syrian regime and its allies killed over 1,300 civilians since the date of agreement.
The de-escalation zone is currently home to some four million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces from throughout the war-weary country.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN officials.
* Writing by Sena Guler