920,000 displaced in Syria in 2018, highest since conflict began

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 13, 2018

Fifteen Syrian civilians were killed on Sunday in regime strikes in the country's northwest, a monitor said, in apparent retaliation for an extremist attack on two besieged government-held villages.

The strike came a day after militants from Al Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate attacked the villages of Fuaa and Kafraya, which are held by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

"Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) began heavily shelling the two villages, and broke into Fuaa to attack local fighters", said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

Al-Foua and Kefraya, which represent the last remaining besieged population in Syria according to the United Nations, were attacked by the terrorists overnight, SANA news agency reported.

Idlib is home to almost 1 million children, many of them displaced from other parts of the country.

Elsewhere in Syria, he said the numbers of people stuck in besieged or other areas humanitarian workers can not easily access has shrunk dramatically since a year ago to just over two million people.

With the Dollars 1.8 billion appeal for Syria only 26 percent funded, the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator said on Monday that the global response to the seven-year conflict was "really at a breaking point".

Fuaa and Kafraya are the only two places in Syria now designated as besieged by the United Nations after the government recaptured the Yarmouk Palestinian camp in southern Damascus.

"Nine civilians, including three children, were killed in the raids on the town of Taftanaz", said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Rebels overran most of Idlib in 2015, but the mainstream opposition's influence has dwindled as jihadists like HTS have solidified their grip on the province.

Now, even the Daesh militant group is conducting hit-and-run attacks in Idlib against its HTS rival.

"The past seven years of war in Syria have shown that violence only fuels more violence, hatred and vengeance - and further fragmentation of a society torn apart".

In retaliation, the IS cell executed five HTS fighters it had abducted in Idlib, the Observatory said.

HTS also killed six IS members it had captured in the clashes.

Troops have employed the tactic alongside heavy bombing to cut off food and medicine to rebel-held areas, then coerce people to agree to leave in population transfer deals.

Moumtzis called on the guarantors of the detente zones in the Arab country, Russia, Turkey and Iran to intensify their commitment to maintaining the ceasefire in effect, especially in the northwestern province of Idlib, where "2.5,000,000 civilians are increasingly moving towards the Turkish border", their last means of escape, he said.

Idlib, which remains under opposition control, was designated as a "de-escalation zone" in which acts of aggression are expressly forbidden in May of past year.

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