ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Sunday called on the international community to intervene and halt a ‘holocaust’ being carried out against civilians in Idlib.
“Civilians have been killed as a result of the airstrikes waged by the Syrian regime and its allies, or it’s civilians whose lives are at risk because of their religious or sectarian affiliations by pro-Turkish opposition factions,” the SDF’s spokesperson Kino Gabriel said.
Since April 29, the Syrian government backed by Russia started military operations targeting Idlib and northern Hama province.
Idlib, a strategic governorate that borders Turkey and hosts over two million people, is the last major territory still in militant hands.
Most of it is held by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), that the US links to al-Qaeda.
Turkey and Russia have agreed on a “demilitarized zone” and joint patrols in Syria’s Idlib province during in a meeting in Sochi in September 2018.
But this didn’t stop the outbreak of fighting and indiscriminate shelling from both sides of the conflict.
Turkish-backed groups have supported the HTS against the Syrian government.
“Many children, women and civilians fell victim to the failure of the guarantors who couldn’t fulfill their obligations to the region and its inhabitants, Gabriel said.
The Kurdish official noted the Sochi agreement between Turkey and Russia agreed to stop the escalation and begin the withdrawal of heavy weapons under the guarantee of Russia and Turkey. “Yet, what happened, it coincided with Turkish threats against northern Syria, the pace of fighting in that region has risen without any regard to the lives of thousands of civilians at risk and the scourge of war.”
Clashes have intensified recently in the northern countryside of Hama and Idlib on the back of the Syrian regime’s insistence on controlling the Aleppo – Damascus and Aleppo – Lattakia roads, he added.
More than 500 civilian deaths have been documented by the United Nations over the past three and a half month period alone.
Since the end of April, there have been at least 42 attacks on healthcare reported, affecting 36 health facilities and 7 ambulances. Of these incidents, 11 were in Hama Governorate, 28 in Idlib and 3 in Aleppo Governorate. In total at least 17 health workers and patients have been killed.
“I condemn this latest attack – and all attacks on civilians and civilian objects – in the strongest terms,” Mark Cutts, the UN Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis said in a statement on a recent attack in Ma’aret Humeh that killed two humanitarian workers and one rescue worker.
"I continue to call on all parties to the conflict to respect and protect medical and humanitarian personnel, their means of transport and equipment and property, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities, in accordance with international humanitarian law (...)," he argued.
Editing by Nadia