The Syrian Army made incursions in December into the major Opposition stronghold of Idlib, which is located in northwestern Syria. In response to this renewed assault, Twitter users have launched a campaign in solidarity with civilians from the region.
As ferocious Syrian regime and Russian airstrikes continued to pound rebel-held Idlib province this week, activists on Twitter launched an English-language hashtag, #WhatIdlibTaughtMe on Twitter to pay tribute to the resilience of its people and horrors they face.
Thousands of people were killed by regime and Russian airstrikes in Idlib last year and Syrian first responders estimate that approximately 1.2 million people – 28 percent of Idlib’s population of roughly 4.35 million – have been displaced.
Airstrikes have been indiscriminate or targeted homes, schools, markets, and hospitals. Despite the huge death toll, the situation has received relatively little attention from the global press.
Idlib is the last area of Syria held by anti-Assad rebels and some activists used the hashtag to remind the world of how the Syrian uprising started in 2011, when peaceful protests were brutally suppressed by the Assad regime.
Twitter user Sascha Ruppert used the hashtag to decry the world’s indifference to the situation in Idlib and to offer his take on radicalisation in Syria. The hardline Islamist group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which was formerly affiliated to Al-Qaeda dominates Idlib province but there are other rebel groups, such as the National Liberation Front, on the ground.
Islamists gained prominence as the Syrian conflict progressed and the rebels have been fractious and divided in their aims and objectives.
A Twitter user calling themselves “Byzant” used the hashtag to remind the world of the tragic story of five-year-old Riham Abdullah, who had died saving her baby sister Touka after their house was hit by a regime airstrike in July 2019.
Some people on Twitter used the hashtag to express angry and cynical sentiments
However, others used it to show how bravery, hope, and love survived amongst the horrors of the Syrian conflict.