Press Release / August 23, 2022

Fears grow for civilians in northern Syria amid escalation in attacks

PPhoto: Attack on al-Bab northern Syria 19 August 2022 ⓒ Syria Civil Defence

Attacks in northern Syria have escalated in recent days with at least 13 civilians including five children massacred during an attack on a market in al-Bab by Syrian regime forces on 19 August.  Just days later on 22 August Russian warplanes carried out more than 10 airstrikes in Idlib province – the first attacks of their kind in one month – targeting agricultural lands and farms according to The White Helmets rescue team, who responded to the attacks and extinguished  fires. No casualties have been recorded so far, however, The White Helmets warn many civilian lives will be at risk if bombing continues to intensify.

Ismail Al-Abdullah a White Helmets volunteer said:

“We have noticed a sharp increase in military operations in northern Syria in recent days that have left civilians shaken and terrified. There are real fears that if this escalation continues many more lives will be lost and thousands already displaced from their homes due to bombings and bloodshed will be forced to flee again, this time with nowhere to go. Civilians are living in fear of an all out operation which would be catastrophic. More than 10 airstrikes in one day is more than enough to sound the alarm. Instead of continuing to terrorize civilians, parties to the conflict must stop their attacks immediately.”

Over 4 millions civilians in northwestern Syria are reliant on humanitarian aid, most of whom have been displaced from across the country over past years, with 1.8 million living in makeshift camps across the north west. 

More than 100 Syrian organizations have condemned rising hostilities, particularly by Turkey in northeastern Syria, demanding intervention from the UN Security Council and EU.

Laila Kiki, Executive Director of The Syria Campaign said: 

“The fate of millions of civilians in northern Syria now lies in the hands of Putin and Erdogan, who over the weekend signalled an alarming shift in Turkey’s stance towards re-establishing relations with Assad, a move that could further endanger civilians in northern Syria as well as refugees in Turkey The international community has a responsibility here to pressure Russia and Turkey to end attacks and ensure safety of civilians. For its part Turkey must halt its inhumane deportations of Syrian refugees.”