A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Idlib as the regime and Russia continue to bombard civilian areas and move closer to capturing the strategic town of Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib, which was the site of a devastating sarin attack in 2017 that killed 92 people. The constant airstrikes have forced at least 530,000 people from their homes, with many camped out in the open air without shelter, adequate food, water, or medical supplies. Local monitoring groups estimate that 40,000 people fled their homes between 13 and 14 August alone.
Many of Idlib’s 3.5 million residents, including children, have been displaced multiple times due to the relentless attacks. Since the regime and Russia escalated their attacks on the northwest on 26 April, 881 civilians have been killed, 228 of them children. Among the weapons used against civilian neighborhoods are incendiary weapons, cluster munitions, regular missiles, nail-filled missiles, and barrel bombs, according to a recent report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights. Between 16 and 18 August, 34 civilians, including nine children, an unborn baby and his mother were murdered in regime and Russian airstrikes.
The UN Secretary-General recently decided to launch an inquiry into regime and Russian attacks on medical facilities in northwest Syria, but already some at the UN are arguing against assigning blame to avoid upsetting Russia. Meanwhile, the attacks continue. On 14 August, a paramedic and an ambulance driver were killed in Maarat al-Numan when an airstrike targeted their ambulance centre, marking the 40th attack on medical facilities since 26 April. As White Helmets rescue workers arrived at the site of the attack, another airstrike hit, killing volunteer Younes Balouz, who is among ninth White Helmet volunteers who have been killed in Idlib, most of whom died in the same “double-tap” airstrike tactic that deliberately aims to kill arriving rescuers.
Assad and Putin are committing these war crimes knowing that they will face no consequences from the international community. As the world looks away, it’s our responsibility towards the people of Idlib to make sure that these crimes are not committed under the cover of silence. Please spread the word by sharing this post, then contact your representatives and members of the UN Security Council and demand they use all channels available to #SaveIdlib.
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The featured image was taken of Khan Sheikhoun by Anas Al-Dyab, a photographer and member of the White Helmets who was killed in July documenting the bombardment of his hometown.