Up to 3 million people living in Syria's northwestern Idlib Province are at risk, with many lacking food and medicine amidst HTS' takeover of the area.
Following the complete takeover of Idlib Province by Hayy’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in northeast Syria, many international aid organisations have stopped or reduced the aid that they are delivering to the province, citing issues concerning the group’s former links to Al Qaeda.
The German Government stated that it would suspend aid to at least 33 medical institutions operating in Idlib. Furthermore, the UK Government issued a warning to charities sending relief aid to the province for fear of it falling into the hands of the HTS.
As a result, thousands of nurses, doctors and teachers who received help from NGOs and European countries have been forced to continue to provide their services for free. Furthermore, doctors also fear for their lives as HTS continues to arrest doctors and teachers throughout the province.
Citizens have expressed their fear that they will be the ones suffering the most from this change in policy. Furthermore, citizens have stated that the militant group is confiscating and up-charging the prices of all of the goods that are being imported into the province from Turkey and the rest of Syria.
According to human rights organisations, HTS’ policies and the lack of aid to the citizens will cause a massive humanitarian crisis, especially as talks of military operations against the province continues to loom over the province.
While operations have not been officially launched yet, the Syrian army has stepped up its bombing campaigns in Idlib – often a precursor for further conflict – forcing hundreds of civilians to leave their homes.
While a de-escalation zone has been implemented in the province, this has not stopped sporadic fighting, shelling and airstrikes from occurring endangering the lives of civilians.
According to Syrian activists and analysts, the Syrian army and its allies are determined to take over the province, which would create a massive humanitarian fallout.
With talk of war and reduced aid delivery to Idlib, civilians trapped in Idlib will bear the brunt.