Syrian Bishop: Idlib uncertainty and concern. UN on alert for violence
According to UN sources, over 152,000 displaced people registered in a week. 27 civilians killed and 31 others injured since April 29, many are women and children. The government army has stepped up attacks since late January, when the area ended up under the control of the jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
Aleppo (AsiaNews) – The situation in Idlib is one of "great uncertainty" and no forecasts can be made about developments in the coming days says the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo of the Latins, Msgr. Georges Abou Khazen, commenting on the clashes between government and jihadist groups in the north-west of Syria.
However, the prelate adds, there is "profound concern" for a serious escalation of tension and for the repercussions it may have on the lives of civilians.
According to the United Nations reports, last week's clashes in the Idlib region between the government army - supported by the Russian ally - and opposition forces and jihadist groups have pushed at least 150 thousand people to flee. The violence also caused dozens of deaths and injuries, although there are conflicting sources on the numbers.
The recent escalation of attacks has raised new fears about an "imminent" offensive by government officials. Hence the decision of thousands of people to pour onto the streets in an attempt to escape.
UN Secretary General António Guterres has appealed to the parties to abide by the deadlines set by the truce concerning Idlib, Aleppo and Hama.
Rescue groups close to the anti-Assad opposition report the death of 20 civilians killed in Russian-Syrian air raids yesterday; according to UK-based NGO the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, there were 13 victims. Sources of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Ohchr) speak of at least 27 civilians killed and of 31 others injured since 29 April; many of these are women and children.
Idlib province is the last stronghold still in the hands of rebel groups (supported by neighboring Turkey) and jihadist militias. At least three million people live in the area; attacks by the government army have intensified sincethe jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham took full control in late January.
David Swanson, spokesman for the UN department for humanitarian affairs underlines "We are alarmed by the news of airstrikes on population centers and civil infrastructures. Over the last week alone, over 152,000 displaced men, women and children have been registered in the governorates of Aleppo and Idlib ”.