Syrian government troops have retaken Saraqib’s city center located in southeast Idlib, with the help of Russian air support after prolonged clashes with opposition forces and anti-government armed groups.
Since December, Asad regime, supported by Iran-backed militia and Russian air strikes, gained control of towns and villages in the country’s north-west, which is the last stronghold of the opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The half a million people, the vast majority women and children forced to flee their homes to the Turkish border since the Syrian government launched the operation against the militant groups.
United Nations estimated that a further 280,000 people are in imminent danger of displacement as the fighting approaches them.
The UN’s human rights office (OHCHR) says those battling for control of Idlib show little concern for the protection of civilians.
The OHCHR says 186 civilians were killed in January, and 49, among them 14 women and 17 children, in the first five days of February alone.
“It is shocking that civilians continue to bear the brunt of hostilities between all parties to the conflict. It appears foreign powers are battling for territorial and political gains, while blatantly disregarding their obligation to protect civilians,” OHCHR stated.
Attacks on civilians, or civilian infrastructure, are likely to be war crimes if deliberate, it further added.
Turkey has also urged Russia to immediately stop the Syrian government’s attacks in Idlib region.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Russia is guarantor country for the Syrian regime, and Turkey expects it to stop Syrian government’s attacks in Idlib.
He said a Russian delegation is expected to visit Turkey in the wake of a Syrian regime attack on Turkish troops in Idlib.
Meanwhile, Russia’s foreign ministry said today that Moscow would continue to coordinate with Ankara and Tehran.