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“Most Alarming Reports” from Idlib: UN official

IDLIB, Syria – A senior United Nations official on Wednesday expressed concern over the “dire humanitarian situation” in north-western Syria in Idlib.
Mark Lowcock, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said in his briefing to the United Nations Security Council that “the most alarming reports” come from southern Idlib, “where hundreds of Air strikes by the government of Syria and its allies have focused.”
“Hostilities have intensified in recent days in the Idlib region, particularly around Ma’arat al-Numan, Saraqeb and western Aleppo,” said Lowcock, adding that: “The fighting in these regions seems be more intense than anything we’ve seen in the last year.”
Citing data from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), he said that at least 81 civilians, mostly women and children, had been killed in the aftermath of air and land strikes in during the week of January 15. -23.
“This total is in addition to the more than 1,500 civilian deaths that OHCHR has verified since the escalation began in late April,” he said.
Lowcock also informed the Security Council of those fleeing the attacks.
“Most of the people affected – more than 99% of them – have moved from southern Idlib to other places in areas not controlled by the government,” he said.
“Our assessment is that at least 20,000 people have moved in the past two days. Some 115,000 people left last week. Nearly 390,000 people have fled in the past two months,” he said.
Lowcock said that although Turkey and Russia announced a ceasefire on January 12, the deal “did not hold.”
The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, supported by Russian forces, captured the district of Maarat al-Numan in Idlib on Wednesday.
Regime forces ignored the agreements reached in Astana and Sochi as part of the Syrian peace process and captured the largest district of Idlib after prolonged violent clashes with the opposition and anti-regime armed groups.
Turkey announced on January 10 that a new ceasefire in Idlib would start just after midnight on January 12.
However, the regime and Iranian-backed terrorist groups continued their ground attacks.
More than a million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks last year.
Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has welcomed some 3.7 million Syrians who have fled their country, making it the first host country for refugees in the world.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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