Assad flouts Syria ceasefire with new assault on Idlib rebels


Almost 100,000 people have been displaced since early December by fighting in northwestern Syria, where the regime is waging an offensive against jihadis, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

Rebels this week launched a counter attack against Syrian government forces and their allies in Idlib.

Idlib province is nearly entirely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist outfit dominated by Al-Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate. De-escalation zones include the Idlib province, some parts of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces, Homs, Eastern Ghouta, Daraa and al-Quneitra provinces in southern Syria.

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Lowcock also mentioned the civilian causalities caused by the rebel mortar shelling on residential areas inside Damascus, as well as the people in the northwestern province of Idlib, where another military campaign is ongoing.

The statement also denied the army had targeted civilians or hospitals, as alleged by France.

"Due to the large numbers of people moving, many are left with no shelter, which could expose them to various risks, especially as the winter temperatures continue to drop", it added.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said regime forces were able to enter Abu Duhur airbase under air cover and were engaged in fierce fighting with the jihadists.

The reports emerging from Eastern Ghouta of civilian casualties as a result of airstrikes suggest that attacking forces may be failing to abide by the global humanitarian law principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions, raising concerns that war crimes may have been committed. Millions have been displaced.

"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.

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