Genocide in Idlib

Feb. 17, 2019, a correspondent in Khan Shaykoun, Idlib, Syria, writes: “The burnt body of Zahra Khaled Aldabos in *Khan Sheikhoun*. No worries this time- It’s not a chemical attack! Meanwhile, Bashar is asking refugees to come back!”

Idlib province, Syria—Only a year after Russia, Iran, and Turkey negotiated the Sochi agreement to end the bombing and fighting in Syria, the attacks here in Idlib have not stopped. The Assad regime and its allies are still bombing the cities and villages here on daily basis, and every day more people are killed.

The Assad regime targets southern and western Idlib and northern Hama using different types of missiles, including cluster missiles and artillery, and these attacks have caused more than 300 martyrs. Most are civilians, children and women, and even a pregnant mother with baby in womb (in Khan Shaykoun).

More than 2,000 people have been forced to leave their homes and move to safer places in the camps in northern Syria next to the Turkish border, where they suffer from the cold weather and rains. To make matters worse, the car bombings continue in different parts of Idlib, especially in northern Idlib, and these too have led to many deaths.

Turkey set up 14 checkpoints, as per the Sochi agreement, but these points are not able to stop the targeting and shelling by the Assad regime and Russia. The Turkish officers have promised the people of Idlib that they would make efforts to stop the bombing, but nothing yet has happened. As a result, a lot of people have lost their trust in them.

On the other side, Russia also set up checkpoints, but aside from these it hasn’t attempted to move ground forces into the area. The regime and Russia continue to bring up more reinforcements to the area.

Aftermath of Assad-allied forces bombing the main bakery in Khan Shaykoun, Idlib, Syria, Feb. 19, 2019.

Over the course of eight years of war, many hospitals have been destroyed by Assad’s attacks, and there is a lack of many varieties of medicine, which has led to critical problems for many desperate people. Conditions are further aggravated, with further loss of life, because over the last two months most non-governmental organizations have stop providing support and medical care; some hospitals have been closed as a result.

There is also a dire crisis affecting the education of our youth as a result of the interruption of international aid. The NGOs have stopped the funding in response to HTS [Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, also known as Al Qaeda in Syria] taking control of large parts of Idlib. In addition, all the schools in southern Idlib have been closed as a result of regime shelling.

In general, the situation is desperate. There are more than 3 million people living here, and the economic situation is very difficult. There is a general lack of basic necessities, and what is available is so expensive as to be beyond the reach of many. With HTS in control of many parts of Idlib, kidnappings are on the rise, as the group abducts and kills activists, or takes people hostage to charge their families ransoms. HTS and the Assad regime have both set up checkpoints, some not very far apart, in Northern Hama, and these exact “taxes” from the people carrying goods between Idlib and the areas under Assad’s control. Throughout Idlib the people live in desperate poverty and amid death and suffering.

–Muhammad, Feb. 23, 2019

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