Syria NGOs say Idlib attacks triggering mass displacement

Istanbul (AFP) –


Syrian NGOs decried on Friday the inaction of the international community to mounting violence in the last jihadist stronghold of Idlib, saying it had triggered the biggest wave of displaced people since the war began.

As well as killing dozens of civilians, the recent bombardments by Syrian and Russian forces in northwest Syria have pushed 300,000 people towards Turkey's border, the NGOs said at a press conference in Istanbul.

"This is the single largest mass displacement in Syria since the beginning of the crisis" in 2011, they said in a statement.

More than two-thirds of those displaced are living without shelter, with border camps already running at double capacity, they added.

"The latest offensive began in March and has amplified since April 26, turning into a daily massacre," said Raed Saleh, head of the "White Helmets" civilian defence group.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday that almost 950 people had been killed in the latest clashes in Idlib.

A September deal was supposed to avert a full-out regime offensive on the province and adjacent areas held by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

But the jihadists have refused to leave the area, and the deal is on the verge of collapse as Syrian and Russian forces ramp up air strikes and rocket fire.

"The entire world is watching the massacre that is taking place and letting it pass in silence. The United Nations hasn't lifted even its little finger," Mohammad Zahed Al-Masri of the Alliance of Syrian NGOs said.

The civil rights groups called for immediate action by the UN Security Council to end the escalation and put pressure for talks.

"The UN is not playing a constructive role in Syria by refusing to name the responsible party in this escalation," said Saleh.