UN warns that 2 million Syrians could flee Idlib for Turkey

UN warns that 2 million Syrians could flee Idlib for Turkey
The United Nations warns that 2 million refugees could flee Syria to Turkey if a regime assault on rebel-held Idlib province continues.
2 min read
10 June, 2019
An injured victim is evacuated after an airstrike on Ma’ar Shoreen [Getty]

The United Nations has warned that up to 2 million Syrian refugees could flee to Turkey if fighting continues in northwestern Syria.

The Syrian regime, backed by Russia, has been engaged in an assault on rebel-held Idlib province in northwestern Syria, home to three million people, since late April.

Approximately 300 Syrians have been killed and more than 300,000 displaced as a result, with the UN fearing the death toll could rise further.

"Our fear is if this continues, and if the numbers continue soaring, and if the conflict intensifies, that we could see really hundreds of thousands, a million, two, heading towards the borders with Turkey," the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Panos Moumtzis, said.

Moumtzis told the Reuters news agency that a September 2018 ceasefire deal guaranteed by Russia and Turkey was no longer in place.

"We see an offensive that is really targeting - or with an impact on - hospitals and schools in civilian areas, in areas where there is the population and urban areas - which really should not be happening according to international humanitarian law," Moumtzis added.

At least 24 hospitals have been destroyed or damaged in airstrikes by the Syrian regime or Russia. The UN previously encouraged hospitals to share their locations so that they wouldn't be hit but this resulted in them being deliberately targeted in airstrikes. As a result, many of them have decided to stop sharing their locations.

"It's a catastrophe, what has been happening... for the sake of humanity, there has to be an intervention," Moumtzis told Reuters.

"A few months ago, we asked to make sure that this nightmare scenario will not take place. Actually, it's unfolding in front of our own eyes as we speak."

At least 10 people were killed in airstrikes on Idlib province and the rebel-held area of Aleppo province today, the Syrian Civil Defence reported. The casualties included a woman and her newly born child in the town of Maar Shoreen in southern Idlib province today.