Civilian toll mounts in Syria’s Idlib province
International | Russian-backed airstrikes have killed dozens in the latest escalation
by Mindy Belz
Posted 5/10/19, 05:45 pm
SYRIA: A brutal assault by Syrian and Russian forces Friday has killed five civilians in Khan Shaykhun, part of a “de-escalation zone” in northwest Syria following a confirmed chemical weapons attack two years ago that killed at least 89 people and injured more than 500. More than 200,000 civilians have been displaced from Idlib province in the last three weeks, with “dozens killed during the escalation,” according to Asaad Hanna, a spokesman for the White Helmets.
Reached by phone Friday in Istanbul, Hanna told me three hospitals have been targeted along with three centers operated by the White Helmets, or Syria Civil Defense. At least one White Helmets volunteer has been killed also. Shelling and airstrikes have been continuous, Hanna said, with civilians trapped under rubble by government forces. “They are focused on destroying infrastructure. They want to make it a miserable situation forcing people out.” Russia and Turkey agreed last year to enforce a demilitarized zone in Idlib, but when recent talks stalled, Russia and Syrian forces launched attacks starting in late April.
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