Nearly 100,000 people have been displaced since early December by fighting in northwestern Syria, where the government forces are waging an offensive against jihadis, the United Nations said on Wednesday. Russian-backed SAA forces launched an offensive at the end of 2017 on the edge of Idlib province, the last in the country still fully outside the government’s control.
Idlib province is almost entirely controlled by a jihadi outfit known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) consisting mostly of fighters from a former al-Qaida affiliate. The fighting has seen 99,569 civilians flee southern Idlib as well as north and northeastern parts of neighboring Hama province between Dec. 1 and Tuesday, said the U.N.’s humanitarian coordination office, UNOCHA.
The government’s goal is to retake the southeast of Idlib province in order to secure a route between Damascus and second city Aleppo, both under its control, according to the Observatory. Its forces are now close to the military air base of Abu Duhur, their next target, the war monitor said.
On his first visit to Syria, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock met with Syrian authorities and traveled to the central city of Homs on Wednesday to see the impact of the conflict on civilians for himself. “In 2017, the United Nations, through our appeal, raised $1.7 billion to help meet the needs of people all over Syria,” he told reporters in Homs.
Source: The Japan Times