Airstrikes by Russian warplanes that targeted Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on Wednesday injured a woman as well as three children, the Syrian civil defense group White Helmets said.
The White Helmets wrote on social media that the Russian planes were targeting a poultry farm between Zarzour and Mazra villages west of Idlib.
“The teams responded to the bombing site and made sure that there were no other casualties,” they said.
Pointing to increasing attacks by the Bashar Assad regime and its allies, the United Nations special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen told a U.N. Security Council (UNSC) briefing this month that although over the past 17 months there has been relative calm, escalations have increased recently.
Pedersen said that in Idlib, Aleppo, Hama and Latakia, “the last months have witnessed an intensification in airstrikes and shelling – leading to dozens of civilian casualties, including women and children, and the largest displacement recorded since March 2020.”
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.
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 the 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.
Apart from the threat of constant regime attacks, civilians face also the threat of COVID-19.
The White Helmets underlined that northwestern Syria still lies far behind in the fight against COVID-19 as cases continue to spike and devastate.
“One percent of the population is vaccinated, intensive care unit (ICU) beds are overcrowded, medical supplies are low and medical teams work tirelessly. We can only survive with the help of the world,” the group said.
According to U.N. figures, some 79,002 people received at least one dose of the vaccine in Idlib and Aleppo, corresponding to 1.84% of the total population by Sept. 5.
It said that on Wednesday teams transferred more than 40 cases, including kids and women, to the precautionary quarantine centers and buried six death cases with all preventive measures.
Syria's damaged health infrastructure and the massive displacement of its citizens as a result of attacks by the Assad regime and Russia make potential containment measures a nearly impossible task. The constant onslaught has caused the deterioration of the physical health of people across the country, where malnutrition and poverty are widespread. According to the U.N., nearly 50% of medical facilities in the country were out of service.
Moreover, the overcrowded camps, unfit for living during the pandemic, are often plagued by poor hygienic conditions and fires that erupt frequently, spreading easily to the other tents nearby.
In a report published this week, the U.N. warned that COVID-19 cases have increased across northwest Syria since mid-August, with more than 1,000 daily cases recorded in the past few weeks.
"The incident rate of COVID-19 significantly increased across northwest Syria in August with 12,839 new cases, marking a sharp increase compared to 771 new cases in July," the U.N. highlighted.
“About one million people in northwest Syria do not have access to at least one essential clean water and sanitation service or supply. 70% of the people in displacement sites and 33% in communities rely on water trucking to access clean water. Less than half of the population in displacement sites have access to soap, water and hand-washing facilities,” the U.N. said.
Syria has been mired in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Over the past decade, around half a million people have been killed and more than 12 million had to flee their homes.
For years, the Assad regime has ignored the needs and safety of the Syrian people, only eyeing further territorial gains and crushing the opposition. The regime has bombed civilian facilities such as schools, hospitals and residential areas, displacing almost half the country's population.
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