New satellite photos show significant damage to Syrian villages and surrounding farmland as a result of a regime attack on the last opposition stronghold in the country, the northwestern Idlib province.
The images, provided to The Associated Press (AP) by the Colorado-based Maxar Satellites yesterday, show fires in olive groves and orchards during harvest season around Kfar Nabudah and Habeet, two villages on the edge of Idlib province where fighting has been focused. The fires were apparently sparked by intense bombing in the area.
Kfar Nabudah fell to regime control on Sunday. Activists, experts and Maxar say the crop burning is part of a "scorched earth" campaign that adds to the hardship of 3 million people in the opposition stronghold.
The U.N. said the fires, triggered by bombing, destroyed staple crops such as wheat and barley.
Idlib's prewar population of 1.5 million has swelled to around 3 million with new refugee waves after it was designated a "de-escalation zone" under the Astana agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran in May 2017.
The recent bombardments have killed 229 civilians, injured 727 and forced more than 300,000 people to flee since April 28, according to the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM), which provides assistance to health facilities.
The latest attack by regime forces came yesterday as two health centers were targeted, killing four civilians and injuring many more.
According to the White Helmets civil defense agency, the regime forces attacked the Dar al-Hikma hospital in Kafr Nabl town, as well as a health center in a neighboring village, making both unusable.
In the last 24 hours, a total of 21 civilians have lost their lives in regime attacks.
Meanwhile, the U.N. sent 32 truckloads of humanitarian aid to Idlib yesterday. The trucks have crossed into Syria from southern Turkey.