Residents of destroyed town in Syria's Idlib unable to find shelter following deadly regime bombing

Residents of destroyed town in Syria's Idlib unable to find shelter following deadly regime bombing
Eighty percent of people in Hizareen have fled because of intense regime airstrikes. Those who remain are trapped - there are no more places for them in refugee camps.
3 min read
30 May, 2019
The streets of Hizareen were empty after the latest round of regime bombardment
Dozens of people are being killed and hospitals continue to be targeted in ferocious airstrikes by the Assad regime and its ally Russia on rebel-held Idlib province in north-western Syria.

Residents of the town of Hizareen, which is located 60 kilometres to the southwest of Idlib city, told the New Arab about life under deadly bombardment and why they were unable to leave.

The town was hit by airstrikes and long-range missiles on Tuesday, killing seven of its residents, including two women and a child.

On Wednesday there was little sign of life in the town. The streets were empty of people, all the shops were closed and the rubble of destroyed houses was in full view.

The current regime assault on Idlib province began at the end of April, despite a September 2018 ceasefire guaranteed by Russia, Iran, and Turkey.

At least 265 people have been killed and more than 200,000 of the province’s three million inhabitants have been displaced.

Hizareen resident Abdullah Hammoud said that the bombing of the town increased in intensity in the middle of May.

"We felt the earth shaking under us and the sounds of the explosions were horrific. Many people left the town, and my family also fled north. I stayed in our house because I was afraid it would be robbed."

Another Hizareen resident, Hatem Barakat, said, "When the bombing starts my children, my wife and I run out of our house to the fields and when it stops, we go back inside."

He added, "There's no possibility of me leaving the town at all. Rents for houses in the north [of Idlib province] are really high, and the refugee camps are teeming with displaced people. There's nothing left except the fields and no humanitarian aid or tents."

Barakat also said that the shops in the town had no more food and there were no sources of water. "I have to go to surrounding towns just for basic needs."

Basics of life "non-existent"

The head of Hizareen's local council, Nader Qanatri, told the New Arab that because the town has been bombed intensely and houses were destroyed or damaged most of the people of the town have left – around 80 percent of them.

He said that before the bombing there were 7,000 permanent residents and 3,000 refugees from other parts of Syria living in Hizareen.

"The basics of life are almost non-existent. The shops have closed their doors, our source of water has been cut off, the medical clinic has stopped operating, and pharmacy owners have left. It's very difficult to find bread. People have to go 13 kilometres to the town of Kafrouma to find bread," Qanatri said.

In northern Idlib province, The New Arab's correspondent met the Shami family.

"We left a few days ago and arrived in the north of Idlib province because we were scared of the bombing getting worse," they said.

"We haven't found a place to take shelter in and we're still out in the open, sleeping under trees. There are no places in the refugee camps and houses are really expensive to rent. All we're asking for is a tent but no one listens to us."

More than 500,000 people have been killed and millions have been displaced in the Syrian conflict, mostly because of regime bombing of civilian areas.

Refugee camps are already overcrowded with no place for the tens of thousands of people who have been displaced in the latest regime assault on Idlib.