Syria: Russian attacks against Idlib and the civilian population

Syrian refugee camp in the outskirts of Athens, Greece Syrian refugee camp in the outskirts of Athens, Greece Julie Ricard on Unsplash

7 November 2021

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees claims that Syria is not safe and recommends all refugee host nations not to force anyone to return

Russia’s attacks on Idlib, the last opposition stronghold located in the northwest of Syria, continue. On Saturday 6 October, a man was seriously injured while panic spread among the civilian population. The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reported that Russia targeted a poultry barn used for sheltering livestock in Shadrani, firing missiles within a residential area free of any military objects. 

The government of President Bashar al-Assad has been trying to take over Idlib for a long time. The opposition-held province is strategically important as it borders Turkey to the north and it straddles the Latakia-Aleppo and Damascus-Aleppo highways. As a consequence of repeated attacks, many civilians are forced to flee their lands and homes to reach safety. For years, the Assad regime has neglected the needs of Syrian people, bombing civilian facilities such as schools, hospitals and residential areas, leading to the internal displacement of approximately 6.5 million persons within Syria, almost half of the country's population, according to Daily Sabah. The Idlib region hosts nearly 3 million people, two-thirds of them displaced from other parts of the state.

The situation in Idlib worsened following the offensive launched by the Assad regime with the support of its ally, Russia. The frequent attacks destroyed health facilities, which were already struggling to cope amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Daily Sabah reports that now the life of almost 75% of Idlib’s population depends on humanitarian aid, and 1.6 million people currently reside in overcrowded camps or informal settlements. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) have alarmed the international community about the ongoing violence perpetrated by the Assad government, calling for action. In light of the widespread abuses, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees asked all refugee-hosting countries not to force Syrian people to return.


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Author: Antonella Candiago; Editor: Xavier Atkins



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