Indiscriminate attacks and the destruction of civilian infrastructure cannot be justified under any circumstances in northwestern Syria's Idlib, a European Union statement said late Wednesday.
"The EU said all parties involved in the conflict are required to respect and uphold international humanitarian law and to ensure unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need. We expect the Syrian regime and the Astana guarantors to fulfill immediately their responsibilities and commitments, and ensure the immediate protection of civilians," the statement said.
It also expressed its "most sincere condolences" to the victims of the latest at
tack in a marketplace in Maraat al-Numan in Idlib on July 22, which was one of the deadliest attacks on civilian areas since the current offensive began at the end of April.
An air raid by Russian warplanes on a crowded market in a residential area in Maarat al-Numan took the lives of at least 50 civilians and left many wounded on Monday.
The EU also called for attacks on civilian infrastructure, including health facilities, schools and water facilities by the Syrian regime and its backers to stop. On Tuesday, Washington also said that the deadly bombardment on Idlib should be stopped. "We strongly condemn yesterday's attack on civilians in Idlib. We call on Russia and Assad to stop exacerbating this humanitarian disaster, to abide by a cease-fire and to return to the political process immediately," said U.S. spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, referring to the attack at the Maarat al-Numan market.
However, the attacks of the regime and Russia in the opposition-held Idlib continued yesterday.
Seven civilians were killed in a Russian airstrike yesterday on residential areas in Idlib, according to the White Helmets civil defense agency.
According to the opposition, areas that fall within the de-escalation zones in the provinces of Idlib, Hama and Aleppo were subject to intense regime and Russian airstrikes as well as shelling.
Sources within the White Helmets reported that three civilians were killed in Idlib's Kafr Roma town, two in Maarat Al-Numan city and two in Aleppo's Al-Atarib town.
The death toll in the de-escalation zone since Monday has risen to 74.
Since the Syrian regime military launched its offensive in Idlib in late April, more than 600 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have been displaced, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Despite the Astana meeting between Turkey, Russia and Iran in May 2017 designating Idlib as a de-escalation zone, the regime consistently breaks the agreement with acts of aggression.
The regime and its backers have been seeking to capture the main highways throughout Syria to leave the opposition forces with just a few isolated pockets of territory across the country.
Currently, the de-escalation zone is inhabited by about 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands of people displaced by Syrian regime forces from their cities and towns over the course of Syria's more than eight-year-long humanitarian disaster.
As the last opposition enclave, 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. Tens of thousands of Syrians trapped in other parts of the country were evacuated there under various cease-fire agreements.