The situation in Idlib echoes the misery in the wider region


Increasing levels of violence and airstrikes across Syria's Idlib Province are causing mass internal and external displacement

The regime continues to target innocent civilians in Syria. Late on Sunday evening, civilians in the rebel-held town, Saraqib in Idlib, were hit by suspected chemical weapons. Reports have suggested that up to 20 civilians are being treated for chlorine gas poisoning. These fresh reports have come in addition to the third regime chemical attack in East Ghouta in recent weeks, with hundreds being treated for respiratory difficulties.

Not only are civilians subject to regime airstrikes and living under besieged conditions, but the inter-jihadist conflicts continue to reap misery. Anti-Hayy’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) protests in the town of Binnish have escalated over the past few weeks, as civilians participate in mass demonstrations calling for unity and the removal of the group. Protestors chanted anti-HTS slogans calling Abu Muhammed al-Jolani, HTS leader, a traitor. According to a local media source Idlib 24, the protesters pulled down the banners of the HTS-affiliated Syrian Salvation Government and forced the militants to leave the town.

As a result of the ongoing fighting in Idlib, 270,000 civilians have fled their homes in the last six weeks. This represents the largest exodus of the seven-year war. Many of the internally displaced people are now scattered across camps in the province. The makeshift camps are ill-prepared for the harshness of the Syrian winter and the recent floods have destroyed belongings and ruined tents.

The violence has sharply increased in the last month. With an escalation of aerial targeting of areas in the Idlib countryside there has been a high number of casualties. In recent days the regime’s warplanes have carried out strikes on Saraqib, Tal Sultan, al-Tah village and Ghadqa village.

Moreover, the besieged citizens of East Ghouta continue to suffer at the hands of regime forces. Assad’s forces have continued to target the area with shells and missiles causing huge destruction. In the last month alone government shelling has been responsible for 237 deaths including 58 children.

Not only do those innocent civilians under siege face a constant threat of bombardment but they are also blighted by hunger and disease. The outlook for the bitterly cold winter remains bleak, while the lack of fuel and scarcity of food is leaving people starving and cold.  In addition, these shortages of adequate medical supplies have caused health problems such as tuberculosis and measles.

The international audience has contributed to the humanitarian aid which has attempted to reach these communities. But the regime siege has made it impossible to deliver appropriate medical care, food, and shelter. With no sign of this conflict ending the humanitarian crisis continues for innocent Syrians.