Russian warplanes have carried out fresh airstrikes in the de-escalation zone in northwestern Syria, killing at least 12 civilians, a Syrian civil defense group said on Jan. 21.
The victims included nine members of a single-family, six of whom were children, in Kafr Taal in Aleppo province, according to White Helmets.
Another child was killed in Aleppo’s Takad village while two other civilians were killed in Idlib‘s Bara village.
Turkey has pushed hard for a cease-fire in Idlib after the region endured months of battering by forces loyal to the Bashar al-Assad regime and its allies, sending about a million civilian refugees flocking towards the Turkish border.
Turkey and Russia agreed in September 2018 to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
Since then, more than 1,300 civilians there have been killed in attacks by the regime and Russian forces as the cease-fire continued to be violated.
Over one million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the last year.
‘Regime uses evacuation as a means to seize Idlib’
In the meantime, the head of Syria’s White Helmets (Civil Defense) said on Jan. 21 the Syrian regime sought to capture opposition-controlled northwestern Idlib city of Syria through forced evacuations.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Raed al-Saleh commented on the Bashar al-Assad regime and its allies’ aggression on the city and violation of cease-fire agreements.
“The cease-fire in Idlib seems to be collapsed, it was relatively better. Those who migrated would return home, but the regime and Russia did not abide by the cease-fire the same as before,” Saleh said.
“The regime attempts to seize Idlib through evacuation,” he said and added that the international community remained silent to the suffering of those being bombed to death in Idlib city.
The regime and allies’ aggression in southern Idlib have recently triggered forced migration of some 350,000 civilians, he stressed, adding: “Over a million civilians have fled their houses in Idlib since April 2019.”
Saleh went on to say that a humanitarian disaster was imminent in Idlib city if the regime and allies maintained attacks.
He also said the locals were so desperate that they did not even dream about returning.
The aid organizations have had difficulty in meeting the needs of locals and hundreds of thousands of civilians were in dire need of humanitarian assistance, Saleh added.
Responding to a question about the strikes on employees working voluntarily, he said: “There is no mechanism protecting the voluntary employees. There is an approach of not targeting ambulances, but we build hospitals around mountains and camouflage the ambulances.”
Media outlets also targeted the White Helmets as well as armed strikes, he said and added: “We are the first witnesses of the crimes committed by Russia and the regime. Therefore, they also target or credibility.”
Hurriyet Daily News