War in Idlib alarms UNHCR

IDLIB, Syria – Over the last few days, the Turkish military has established deployed a number of observation points in Idlib, supplied armed opposition groups there with armor and artillery, and have also targeted Syrian Arab Army (SAA) positions. Yesterday, Russian aircraft responding to the growing Turkish presence and military support for the opposition by conducting a series of air strikes.

The Russian Ministry of Defense stated that Russian Su-24 attack aircraft destroyed a military tank, 6 armored vehicles and five 4×4 vehicles belonging to the Turkish-backed militants who targeted the positions of the SAA in Idlib governorate on Thursday.

The statement also indicated that the rebel attacks on SAA positions were supported by Turkish artillery fire, which enabled them to penetrate the defenses of the SAA. The attack resulted in the deaths of two SAA soldiers and wounded four others. Five Turkish soldiers were said to be wounded in the Russian response.

According to the statement, the Turkish artillery bombardment stopped after Russia informed Turkey that the bombing had targeted the SAA.

As violent military operations continue in the region, the humanitarian crisis is worsening. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) appealed to Turkey to receive more refugees. “We need to end the fight and provide a safe way to save civilian lives,” said Filippo Grandi, Commissioner of the UNHCR, in a statement.

Grandi also stated that 80 % of the displaced civilians from Idlib are women and children, stressing the importance of providing a safe way to deliver humanitarian aid.

However, Turkey has expressed its unwillingness to open its borders to more refugees, already straining from those it has received over the nine-year-long Syrian conflict.