The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) identified at least 450 civilians who have been killed since late April, more than 100 in the last two weeks alone, Mark Lowcock, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs said on Tuesday.
Lowcock added that many hundreds more have been injured and over 440,000 displaced and dozens of civilians killed or injured by shelling of the Security Council-listed terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the non-state armed groups associated with them.
He recounted the story of a surgeon at Idlib Central Hospital who said that while he lives at the top of the building, the patients are in the lower floors and basement, because that is where it is safest.
Days before speaking to the doctor, “a bomb landing 50 metres away blew out all the glass and windows of his room”, Lowcock added.
“A day or so before that, another bomb had hit a gynaecological facility 200 metres away”, he said, explaining that the hospital is in a deconflicted area, which was established through a MoU between Russia and Turkey to separate pro-government forces and militant opposition fighters.
“Then of course there is the testimony of the people of Idlib themselves”, he asserted.
A three-month aerial bombardment campaign by Syrian regime forces and Russia, combined with a ground assault on the last jihadi stronghold, is largely deadlocked, leaving thousands of people dead and displacing hundreds of thousands more, with no clear end in sight.
The fierce fighting threatens to unravel a fragile truce deal struck in September by Russia and Turkey as the Syrian regime vows to retake all the territory outside of its control and Ankara doubles down to protect its influence in the northwest of the country.