A Church source told AsiaNews that people "continue to die every day", asks for prayers. At least 400,000 have been displaced from Idlib in the past three months, as government and rebel groups fight over the region. More than a hundred people have been killed in the past ten days, many of them civilians. A girl, Riham, becomes the symbol of the horrors of war.
Damascus (AsiaNews) – Syria is seeing "violence on top of more violence", an escalation that has intensified in recent days, this despite Pope Francis’s recent letter to President Bashar al-Assad, a Church source in Damascus told AsiaNews.
The same source, anonymous for security reason, had previously cited "criticisms" and "misunderstandings" regarding the letter and "increasingly fierce attacks" in Idlib, Hama and Aleppo.
Noting that "Innocent people continue to die every day”, the source asks people “pray for us" as there is still no end in sight to a war that has already lasted over eight years.
The tragic nature of conflict is best illustrated by an image (pictured) carried by regular and social media around the world.
The photo, taken by a journalist, comes from Ariha, in the northern province of Idlib, the last stronghold of pro-Turkish and jihadist groups. Government forces have already attacked the area, and have been planning an offensive for some time.
The picture shows a five-year-old girl, Riham, covered by the rubbles of her home, as she holds out her hand to her sister Toqa, only seven months old, whom she is trying in vain to save.
Other images from SY.24 show the father who tries, with a final desperate move, to save the two daughters who fall into the rubble.
Local witnesses say that Riham died under the rubble, still holding the hand of her little sister who is now at a hospital in intensive care fighting for her life.
As the violence intensifies, in the wake of the moderate optimism of the past few months about a long-term solution to the conflict, the number of refugees and casualties mount, UN sources report.
Over the past three months, more than 400,000 have been displaced in north-western Syria, this according to David Swanson, an official with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Repeated attacks by the Syrian army, backed by its Russian ally, against terrorist and jihadist targets have triggered a new exodus in Idlib province, but the situation is critical near Aleppo, Hama and Latakia as well.
As refugees stream northward along the border with Turkey, the latter is trying to repatriate refugees it has hosted for the past few years.
OCHA’s latest report notes that “Camps for the displaced people are overcrowded, with many people forced to stay in the open air.” What is more, “Roughly two-thirds of people displaced are staying outside camps.”
About half of the three million people living in Idlib and its province were displaced from other parts of Syria or people who fled rebel-held areas retaken by the government.
In addition to refugees, casualties are also mounting. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, government air attacks have killed at least 103 people with hospitals, schools and public markets bombed.
“These are civilian objects, and it seems highly unlikely, given the persistent pattern of such attacks, that they are all being hit by accident,” Bachelet said, adding that the rising toll had been met with “apparent international indifference”.