The Bashar Assad regime and its backers have violated the ongoing cease-fire in northwestern Syria's Idlib region at least 800 times in the last 45 days, killing at least 66 civilians.
Mohammad Hallaj, the director of Syria's Response Coordination Group, told the Anadolu Agency (AA) that the regime and its main backers Russia and Iran-backed militant groups continue to target residential areas and civilians beyond the military zones.
"Of the 66 civilians who lost their lives in the attacks carried out by the regime forces and Russia in 1.5 months, 29 are children, 10 are women and five are humanitarian aid workers," he said.
Emphasizing that the Assad regime forces also targeted the civil defense center and various health centers, Hallaj said that 19 service buildings were rendered unusable after these attacks.
"As a result of the intense attacks of the Assad regime and its supporters, at least 4,500 civilians were displaced. If the attacks continue, 250,000 more civilians may have to flee," he added.
Most recently, amid the regime's increasing attacks on civilians and residential areas, the United Nations has voiced deep concern over the escalating violence in northwestern Syria, which poses a constant risk to civilians.
Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the ongoing fighting has caused death and injury to dozens of civilians in the past weeks, including women and children.
The Syrian regime army shelled the Idlib region Thursday killing seven civilians, four of them children, in its third deadly bombardment of the opposition bastion in a week, a monitor said.
"Such attacks raise further concerns about compliance with international humanitarian law, which requires the parties to take all feasible precautions to avoid and minimize civilian harm," Haq said.
The army has stepped up its bombing of the northwestern enclave since last week when Assad took the oath of office for a new term vowing to make "liberating those parts of the homeland that still need to be" one of his top priorities.
The Idlib region is home to nearly 3 million people, two-thirds of them displaced from other parts of the country.
Nearly 75% of the total population in northwestern Syria's opposition-held Idlib region depends on humanitarian aid to meet their basic needs as 1.6 million people continue to live in camps or informal settlements, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
Most of the displaced people sought shelter at camps close to the border with Turkey, while others went to areas under the control of the Syrian opposition.
Still, due to overcrowding and the lack of essential infrastructure in refugee camps, displaced civilians face great difficulty in finding places to take shelter. Thousands of families are in dire need of humanitarian aid as they struggle to live amid harsh conditions.
Although Turkish officials and charities continue their efforts to provide humanitarian aid, there are still thousands more who need urgent assistance from the international community.
The UNSC agreed to extend its decision authorizing Turkey’s Cilvegözü border gate (Bab al-Hawa) in southern Hatay province for U.N. aid sent to northwest Syria for the next 12 months.
The decision will be implemented for an initial six months and then extended for another six months based on the report of the U.N. Secretary-General.
Ankara in a press release said that “U.N. aid sent through our border gate is essential for the continuation of the effective response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and for regional stability and security.”
It noted that Ankara therefore “welcomes the continuation of the U.N. cross-border humanitarian aid mechanism operating through our country to meet the needs of the Syrian people.”
“We expect the U.N. Security Council and the main international actors to demonstrate their constructive approach and conciliatory attitude in this regard,” it said, within the scope of international efforts aimed at finding a permanent solution to the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country.
Turkey will continue its strong support for the fight to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Syria, and “will continue to actively contribute to the maintenance of the ceasefire and to advancing the political process."
The UNSC agreed to extend the cross-border aid operation after Russia allowed a compromise in last-minute talks with the United States.
Idlib falls within a de-escalation zone forged under an agreement between Turkey and Russia in March 2020.
The Syrian regime, however, has consistently violated the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the de-escalation zone.
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