Syrian Revolution News & Discussions

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Syrian Doctors Accuse Regime, Russia of Targeting Hospitals
Thursday, 30 May, 2019


A hospital that has been targeted in Syria. AFP file photo

Asharq Al-Awsat

The Syrian regime and Russian warplanes have bombed at least six hospitals in the past month that were on a list shared by the UN with the warring parties in the hope of minimizing civilian casualties, according to Syrian doctors.

Two Syrian medical officials in opposition-held Idlib province in northwestern Syria told the Financial Times that the coordinates of the bombed hospitals were on a “deconfliction list” compiled by the UN’s humanitarian affairs office (OCHA), shared with the regime and its Russian backers.

The list includes civilian infrastructure such as schools, markets and medical facilities.

Munzer Khalil, director of Idlib’s health directorate, said that coordinates of at least six of the bombed hospitals had been shared, and he believed that the targeting of medical facilities was “systematic”.

Although difficult to prove, any intentional targeting of health facilities is a war crime, the Financial Times said.

“It is inexcusable that hospitals, schools and other infrastructure have been attacked despite OCHA’s deconfliction mechanism,” UK’s Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce said.

The World Health Organization said some 22 medical facilities had been attacked in and around Idlib during May.

Pro-regime forces have bombarded the area as a temporary truce brokered by Russia and Turkey has eroded, reigniting the fight for Syria’s final opposition-held bastion.

 

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Israel strikes Syria after rockets fired at Golan
01 June 2019

BEIRUT/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israeli military said its aircraft struck Syrian army targets on Sunday after rockets were fired at the Golan Heights, and Syria’s state media said three soldiers were killed in the second such flare-up in a week.

Syrian television reported big explosions near Damascus before dawn and said air defences had “confronted the enemy”.

The Israeli military said it struck Syrian artillery and aerial defence batteries in retaliation for Saturday’s firing of two rockets at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said it was still unclear who had fired the rockets but the Syrian army was held responsible for any attack launched from Syrian territory.

“We will not tolerate any firing into our territory and we will respond with great force to any aggression against us,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

On Monday, Israel’s military said it attacked a Syrian anti-aircraft position that had fired on one of its warplanes, and Syrian state media said a soldier had been killed in the incident.

In recent years, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against its regional arch foe Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, which it calls the biggest threat to its borders.

Iran and Hezbollah are fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war, and Israel says they are trying to turn Syria into a new front against Israelis.

Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel later annexed the captured territory in a move unrecognized by most of the international community, except for the United States. President Donald Trump announced U.S.-recognition for Israeli sovereignty over the Golan in March.

The White House said on Wednesday that national security adviser John Bolton and his Israeli and Russian counterparts will meet in Jerusalem this month to discuss regional security issues. Russia intervened militarily in the Syrian war on Assad’s behalf in 2015, turning the tide of the war.

Reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Ali Abdelaty in Cairo; writing by Angus McDowall in Beirut; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Clarence Fernandez

 

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Three Syrian soldiers killed by Israeli rockets: state media
June 2, 2019

(Reuters) - Three Syrian soldiers were killed and seven wounded by Israeli rockets fired into Quneitra province, Syrian state media said on Sunday, citing a military source.

Reporting By Ali Abdelatyl editing by Darren Schuettler

 

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Car blast hits rebel-held north Syria
June 3, 2019 / Updated an hour ago

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A car bomb exploded in a north Syrian town held by Turkey-backed rebels on Sunday, killing at least 10 people, rescue workers and medics said, after a war monitor had reported blasts hitting other insurgent-held areas in the northwest.

The blast was the largest in months to target Azaz, near the Turkish border. It struck a marketplace that was busy late in the evening after the daily Ramadan fast had finished.

Turkey-backed Syrian rebels control a strip of territory along the frontier between the countries.

It adjoins the enclave in northwest Syria that is the only major territory still held by groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has been the target of a government offensive since late April.

That enclave was also hit by a series of blasts on Sunday said a war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Backed by Russian air power and Iran-backed militia groups, Assad has regained control over most of Syria.

The rebels’ northwest enclave is dominated by the jihadist Tahrir al-Sham group, the latest iteration of the former al Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front.

Islamic State militants have repeatedly carried out attacks across northern Syria in areas held by insurgents and by Kurdish-led forces.

Reporting by Khalil Ashawi; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Peter Cooney

 

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Israel Strikes Syria’s T4 Base
Monday, 3 June, 2019

An Israeli Air Force F-15 fighter jet flies during an aerial demonstration at the Hatzerim air base in southern Israel, June 30, 2016. (Reuters)

Asharq Al-Awsat

One Syrian regime soldier was killed and two wounded in the attack that took place hours after other Israeli attacks in southern Syria killed three soldiers and wounded seven, Syria's state-run media said.

There was no immediate comment from Israel about striking the air base, which opposition activists said includes positions also manned by Iranian troops and Iran-backed militiamen.

Syrian state TV quoted an unidentified military official as saying that one soldier was killed and two were wounded in the air base attack and that an arms depot was hit as well.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said Israeli aircraft struck positions and an arms depot belonging to Iranian troops and Lebanon's Hezbollah fighters.

It said the attacks killed at least 10, including three Syrian troops and seven believed to be foreign fighters.

Rami Abdul Rahman, who heads the Observatory, said "until this moment it is not clear if they were Iranians or Hezbollah members."

Israel has attacked the T4 base in the past.

Earlier Sunday, Israel's military confirmed it targeted several military positions in southern Syria, including two artillery batteries, several observation and intelligence posts and an SA2 air defense unit.

It said it was responding to two rockets launched from Syria late Saturday, which caused no casualties.

The Syrian state news agency SANA, quoting an unidentified military official, said those attacks struck military positions in the southern region of Quneitra, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. They also caused material damage, the report said.

Soon after the Sunday morning attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered the strikes. "We will not tolerate firing into our territory and will respond fiercely against any aggression against us," he said in a statement.

It was a rare public acknowledgment of Israeli strikes in Syria soon after they happened but is the second in a little over a week, both sparked by claims that fire was directed at Israel from inside Syria.

On May 26, Israel said its aircraft had hit a Syrian military post in response to anti-aircraft fire against one of its combat planes. One Syrian soldier was killed, according to state-run media.

The Israeli military said that during the Sunday morning strikes, an Israeli aerial defense system was activated due to Syrian anti-aircraft shooting. Israeli media said that sirens warning of incoming rockets were not activated.

For years, Israel has remained largely silent about its attacks against Iran and its proxies operating in neighboring Syria. But in recent months, military and political leaders have become increasingly outspoken about these activities.

Israel says it will not allow Iran, which has sent forces to help regime leader Bashar Assad in Syria's war, to establish a permanent military presence in Syria.


 

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Car bombing kills 19 in Syria’s Azaz: monitor
AFP
June 03, 2019
View attachment 7479
The damage from the explosion was sever, burning down at least six shops. (AFP)

  • The bomb exploded as people were leaving the evening prayers
  • The explosion burned down at least six shops

AZAZ, Syria: At least 19 people were killed Sunday in a car bomb near a bustling market and mosque in a rebel-held city in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said.

Four children were among those killed in the explosion in Azaz, in the heart of a Turkish zone of influence in Aleppo province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The attack also wounded more than 20 people, according to the Britain-based monitor.
“Many people were leaving evening prayers when the explosion happened,” Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman told AFP.

Shoppers buying clothes and gifts ahead of the upcoming Eid Al-Fitr holiday were among those killed, said Jihad Berro, a coroner at a local hospital.

He said the medical facility was crammed with victims and their relatives.
“The emergency rooms were full, we placed corpses on the floor,” he said.
“It is a real catastrophe before the Eid Al-Fitr holiday,” which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, said Berro.

An AFP photographer saw a large crowd gathering at the scene of the attack, charred vehicles dotting the side of the road.
Rescue workers searched through mounds of rubble, looking for bodies, he said.

Resident Abu Youssef said the explosion torched the neighborhood.
“The damage is severe: at least six stores were burned, the storefronts of dozens of other stores were blown out,” he told AFP.

It was not clear who was behind the attack, which came a day after a similar explosion killed 10 people and wounded 20 in the northeastern city of Raqqa.

Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016 and seized more than 2,000 square kilometers of northern Syria including Azaz, clearing the area of Daesh terrorists while preventing any Kurdish advance in the region.

Ankara keeps Turkish troops and intelligence forces in the area, and still backs Syrian rebels serving as police officers.

 

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Kremlin rebuffs Trump on Syria, says military action in Idlib is justified
June 3, 2019

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin rebuffed criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump of Russian and Syrian government military action in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province, saying on Monday it was needed to shut down rebel attacks being launched from there.

Trump on Sunday urged Russian and Syrian government forces to stop bombing Idlib, following a Friday Kremlin statement that signaled Moscow would continue to back a month-long Syrian government offensive there.

The assault has raised fears of a humanitarian crisis as Syrians displaced by the fighting seek shelter at the Turkish border. More than 200,000 people have fled since strikes began at the end of April, according to the United Nations.

When asked about Trump’s criticism on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said militants were using Idlib as a base to launch attacks against civilian and military targets, something he called unacceptable.

“Of course strikes by militants from Idlib are unacceptable and measures are being taken to neutralize these strike positions,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
He said Turkey bore responsibility for ensuring such attacks from Idlib did not happen under a deal reached between Russia and Turkey in September.

The Syrian offensive has strained that agreement which created a demilitarized zone in Idlib and called for it to be free of all heavy weapons and jihadist fighters.

Turkey has called for a ceasefire in Idlib, the last significant rebel stronghold, to prevent more civilian deaths and a possible new surge of refugees fleeing the fighting.
Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Andrew Osborn

 

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Russia blocks UN Security Council Idlib ceasefire statement

Tuesday, June 4, 2019


Russia has blocked a UN Security Council statement calling for confirmation of the ceasefire in Idlib, Syria, a source in the council reported on 3 June.

The statement, drafted by the “humanitarian three” – Belgium, Germany and Kuwait – calls for “all parties to return to full compliance with the Russian-Turkish ceasefire agreement”. The document also emphasizes that the return of Syrian refugees “must be safe, voluntary and dignified” and that violations of international law must be punished.

The source claims that Russia did not support the statement because it considers it superfluous in light of the bilateral memorandum with Turkey.

Russia considers it necessary to ensure that the terrorists that have settled in Idlib cease fire, said Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on 31 May. The president’s press representative emphasized that, according to the agreements that have been reached, Turkey is responsible for de-escalation in Idlib.

On 15 October 2018, the agreement between Turkey and Russia to establish a demilitarized (buffer) zone along the northern front in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and Latakia, by withdrawing heavy weaponry and implementing a ceasefire, expired. The Syrian army has generally complied with the terms, but in a number of regions this proved to be impossible due to constant bombardment by the militants. Turkey, in turn, has not yet been able to convince the radical Islamist and terrorist groups to withdraw from the front line.

After talks between Russian and Turkish presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 17 September in Sochi, the defense ministers of both countries signed a memorandum to stabilize the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone. Only a portion of the heavy weaponry was withdraw from the demilitarized zone in Idlib (tanks, multiple rocket launchers and mortars). Monitoring of the demilitarized zone is meant to be organized by Turkey’s mobile patrol groups and the Russian military police. The zone will be created on the demarcation line between the Syrian government forces and the opposition forces, with a breadth of 15-20 km.

In recent weeks, the situation surrounding the Idlib zone has become more complicated. Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base has been periodically bombarded from the militant-held position in north-western Syria. The Syrian army has been simultaneously fighting several “intractable” groups, while the Turkey-backed “moderate” armed opposition in the National Front for Liberation also never misses an opportunity to shell Assad’s forces.

The government forces also have to hold back the Guardians of Religion Organization, one of the Syrian branches of Al-Qaeda, and the mismatched militant groups from the jihadist alliance Tahrir al-Sham, in which the terrorist groups Al-Nusra Front and Jaysh al-Izza play a leading role.

 

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Syrian fighters burning crops, using food as "weapon of war": U.N.
June 4, 2019

GENEVA (Reuters) - Fighters have set fire to thousands of acres of wheat and other crops in northwest Syria in a campaign that has turned food supplies in a “weapon of war” and forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Satellite images released by campaigners last week showed fields, orchards and olive groves burning in the region where Syria’s Russia-backed army has been assaulting rebels in their last major stronghold.

Both sides in the fight had blamed each other for the destruction, the U.N.’s World Food Prgramme (WFP) said.

“The latest outbreak in violence in Idlib and north Hama has left dozens of casualties, burned several thousand acres of vital crops and farmland and forced at least 300,000 people to flee their homes,” WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said.

“Crops such as barley, wheat and vegetables have been destroyed. Destruction to farmland and the agricultural sector is unacceptable,” he told a news briefing in Geneva.

Farmers had not been able to get to their fields or tend to their remaining crops during the harvest season, as the warring sides vied for control and territory, Verhoosel said.

“The most important thing for us, it is not acceptable to take one more time the civilian population hostage, to basically use food, distribution of food as a weapon of war,” he added.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday urged Russia and Syrian government forces to stop bombing Idlib, following a Friday Kremlin statement that signaled Moscow would continue to back a month-long Syrian government offensive there.

Fires had also broken out in other areas away from the fighting, amid high temperatures, the WFP said. In all, less than 5% of Syria’s current crop had been affected, it added.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Andrew Heavens

 

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Aid Groups: Lebanon Demolitions Will Make Syrian Kids Homeless
Tuesday, 4 June, 2019


Syrian refugees work near tents at a makeshift camp at the Lebanese border town of Arsal, Lebanon January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Zeina Alhoujeyri.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Lebanon's planned demolition of concrete shelters housing Syrian refugees near the border could make at least 15,000 children homeless, aid groups warned Tuesday.

The authorities in April set a June 9 deadline for Syrian refugees living in shelters built with materials other than timber and plastic sheeting in Arsal to bring their homes into compliance, Agence France Presse reported.

In Arsal, which lies in northeastern Lebanon, more than 5,000 structures made with concrete are slated for demolition. Similar measures could affect other communities in the near future, it said.

Lebanon allows only informal camps for Syrian refugees to prevent permanent settlements that would affect its delicate demographic balance.

Three international aid agencies -- Save the Children, World Vision and Terre des Hommes -- warned that children were most at risk and urged the government to hold off.

"For a child who barely eats, and often doesn't go to school, losing a home is extremely traumatic. And we are talking about 15,000 children," said Piotr Sasin from the Swiss-based Terre des Hommes charity.

The joint statement warned that the "demolition of many of these homes could result in the destruction of household water and sanitation systems, leaving children at high risk of illness and disease."

Lebanon is home to an estimated 1.5 to 2 million refugees who have fled the conflict that erupted in 2011 when the Syrian regime repressed initially peaceful protests.

Lebanon's economic and other woes are routinely blamed on Syrian refugees by local politicians and the government has ratcheted up the pressure to send them back.



 

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Syrian Regime Advances in Idlib, High-Ranking Commander Killed in Suwaida
Wednesday, 05 June, 2019

View attachment 7542
FILE - People walk past a damaged building in the city of Idlib, Syria, May 25, 2019 (Reuters)

Backed by Russian air support, Syrian regime forces infiltrated areas controlled by opposition factions in the northwestern province of Idlib, for the first time since the regime launched an operation about a month ago by advancing into the last opposition stronghold and unleashing a wave of intense bombing.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday regime forces and local factions were violently clashing on the outskirts of al-Qassabiyyeh in the countryside of Idlib's south.

It said government forces were able to advance into the towns of al-Humayrat, Hardana, Qiratah, and al-Qaroutiyyah.

In September 2018, several areas in the countryside of Hama, Idlib and the western countryside of Aleppo were included in a de-escalation zone deal, signed between Russia and Turkey to avert a regime offensive against the last opposition-held stronghold in the war-torn country.

However, since regime forces launched their offensive on the Idlib area, at least 1,098 were reportedly killed, the Observatory said.

Around 1,246 people were killed between April 20 and June 4, including 94 children and 94 women killed in Russian air strikes and regime shelling on areas in Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Idlib.

Separately, local sources said a brigadier general, who is a commander of the Syrian army's 15th Division of al-Suwaida province, was killed on Tuesday.

Jamal Al-Ahmad was shot by unidentified gunmen on Tareeq al-Hajj west of the province.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

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Star soccer player turned rebel icon dies in Syria fighting
08 June 2019
View attachment 7708

AZAZ, Syria (Reuters) - A Syrian star soccer player turned fighter who became an icon of the revolt died on Saturday after getting injured battling government forces in the northwest, his faction said.

Abdelbasset Sarout, 27, once a well-known goalkeeper from the city of Homs, gained a new kind of fame when the popular uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s rule erupted in 2011.

He was dubbed the “singer of the revolution” for chanting songs at rallies that eulogized slain protesters or vilified the president.

After the crackdown on protests, Sarout took up arms against the state, mirroring how the rebellion evolved into an armed struggle seen as a fight to the death as much by Damascus as by the guerrilla bands spawned by the conflict.

Sarout, a commander in the Jaish al-Izza rebel faction, died two days after sustaining injuries in battle in the northern Hama countryside.

“Those who think Sarout has died are under an illusion. We will all remain Sarout,” Samer al-Saleh, a senior official in the faction said.

Battles intensified in northwest Syria on Friday after insurgents mounted an attack to repel an army offensive that has pounded the country’s last major rebel stronghold for weeks.

The violence in Idlib province and a strip of nearby Hama marks the biggest military escalation between Damascus and its insurgent enemies since last summer. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes, many of them sheltering at the Turkish border from air strikes that have killed scores of people.

Assad has reclaimed much of Syria after crushing rebel bastions with the help of Russia and Iran. The northwest corner remains the last big chunk in opposition hands, including Idlib and a swathe of territory to the north under the control of Turkey-backed rebels.

Sarout was among hundreds of thousands of people, civilians and fighters, shuttled to the northwest in recent years under surrender deals as the state recovered their hometowns.

Sarout, who fought in his city of Homs, left in 2014 when such a withdrawal deal ended a bitter two-year siege.
Four of Sarout’s brothers, as well as his father, had all died in earlier fighting against pro-government forces.

Reporting by Khalil Ashawi in Azaz; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian

 

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Abdelbaset al-Sarout: ‘Singer of Revolution’ Dies as ‘Guevara of Syria’
9 June, 2019

Abdelbaset al-Sarout (left) sings at a rally to commemorate the start of the Syrian revolution in March. Photograph: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images

London- Ibrahim Hamidi

The story of Abdelbaset al-Sarout stands out from other military or civilian opponents who died or were killed inside Syria or abroad – as his life was witness to Syria's peaceful protests, vicious battles, demonstrations, siege, displacement, and poverty all the way from Homs «capital of the revolution» to Idlib «the last stronghold of the opposition».

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sarout was wounded in clashes with government forces in the northern Hama countryside in the night of Thursday to Friday while fighting in the ranks of Jaish Al-Izza.

"He died of his wounds on Saturday," the head of the Britain-based Observatory, Rami Abdurrahman, said.

A nationally-recognized goalkeeper, he sprang to prominence in his home city of Homs in 2011 as one of many who staged street protests – he used to sing in praise of the revolution and was known as the “singer of the revolution”.

He fought in Homs, but left in 2014 along with other rebels under a surrender deal with the regime to end a two-year siege of its historical center. Four of Sarout’s brothers and his father have also been killed in the fighting and shelling there.

Sarout moved among Islamic and moderate factions, becoming a symbol of the revolution, as described by Mahmoud al-Hamoud, a leader of the Jaysh al-Izza rebel group, in which Sarout was a commander.

“He was both a popular figure, guiding the rebellion and a military commander,” said Maj. Jamil al-Saleh from Jaish al-Izza. “His martyrdom will give us a push to continue down the path he chose and to which he offered his soul and blood as sacrifice.”

He spearheaded the battles in the north of Aleppo and was among the first arrivals to Tal Meleh when factions launched a counter-attack in north-Hama on Thursday.

Sarout starred in the documentary "Return to Homs" by Syrian director Talal Derki.

Further, an album including all the songs by Sarout that went viral during the protests in 2012 was issued. His picture was also printed on postal cards designed by activists in 2012 to archive protests against the regime.

Upon announcing his death, some cheered up and described him as a terrorist while others mourned him and called him the “Guevara of Syria.”

 

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Syrian Opposition Uncovers Maps of Iranian Missiles Caches
09 June, 2019

Smoke rises from Al Habeet in Idlib governorate after Syrian and Russian air strikes on the opposition-held Syrian town May 3, 2019. AP

Istanbul, London- Asharq Al-Awsat

Syrian opposition officers uncovered on Saturday the sites of Iranian missiles caches and factories in the country, saying that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has moved its leadership base from Damascus to mountainous areas north the capital due to the latest Israeli strikes.

The study was conducted by the National Liberation Front, which is now under the command of Fateh Hassoun, and includes a group of 150 dissident officers.

It documented the presence of several Iranian Fateh-110 short-range ballistic missiles, advanced Russian-made Scud missiles, and Dhu al-Fiqar, which can reach a range of 700 kilometers.

The study showed that Toophan-1 anti-tank missiles were stored in the Tayfur airport in the province of Homs, while rocket caches were found in Aleppo’s Al-Safira town, in southern Damascus’ Koussa and in Jab Al-Jarah, east the city of Selmiyah.

Separately, fighting between regime forces and opposition factions in the countryside of northern Hama and on the edge of the militant-controlled Idlib province killed 101 people during the past 24 hours.

Idlib is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a September buffer zone deal signed between regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey, however, the Syrian military launched its assault on the province last April, backed by government and Russian airstrikes.

The deal was never fully implemented as militants refused to withdraw from the planned demilitarized zone.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that two children were killed overnight – one in regime rocket fire in the village of Frike and another in an airstrike in the town of Khan Sheikhun.

Fighters from Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, Qaeda-linked Hurras Al Deen, and Turkistan Islamic Party took part in the counterattack launched against regime forces.

 

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Up to two million Syrians could flee to Turkey if clashes worsen: U.N.
June 10, 2019

View attachment 7790
FILE PHOTO: Internally displaced Syrians carry their belongings as they arrive at a refugee camp near the Bab al-Salam crossing, across from Turkey's Kilis province, on the outskirts of the northern border town of Azaz, Syria February 6, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal


GENEVA (Reuters) - Up to 2 million refugees could flee to Turkey if fighting intensifies in northwestern Syria as aid funds run dangerously low, the United Nations said on Monday.

Syria’s Russian-backed military has been pressing an assault on rebels in their last major stronghold with air attacks and ground battles that have already forced tens of thousands to leave their homes.

“Our fear is if this continues, and if the numbers continue soaring, and if the conflict intensifies, that we could see really hundreds of thousands, a million, two, heading toward the borders with Turkey,” the U.N. Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Panos Moumtzis, said.

The onslaught since late April, focused mostly on southern parts of Idlib province and adjacent parts of Hama and Latakia, marks the most intense conflict between President Bashar al-Assad and his insurgent enemies since last summer.

Moumtzis told Reuters in Geneva that the situation was deteriorating and a deal between Russia and Syria to deescalate the fighting there was effectively no longer in place.

“We see an offensive that is really targeting - or with an impact on - hospitals and schools in civilian areas, in areas where there is the population and urban areas - which really should not be happening according to international humanitarian law,” Moumtzis said.

Aid organizations have been encouraged to share their locations with the warring parties to avoid being hit. But after repeated air strikes on hospitals, many aid workers distrust such requests, Moumtzis said.

“It’s a catastrophe, what has been happening... for the sake of humanity, there has to be an intervention,” he said.

“A few months ago, we asked to make sure that this nightmare scenario will not take place. Actually, it’s unfolding in front of our own eyes as we speak.”

The U.N. appealed for $3.3 billion to cover humanitarian work within Syria this year, and despite generous pledges, it has so far received only $500 million, leaving the aid effort surviving “hand-to-mouth”, Moumtzis said.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Andrew Heavens

 

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