Russian and Syrian planes cause death and destruction in the towns and villages in southern Idlib, Syria. Targets of the attacks include houses, bakeries, and market places. Civilians who try to escape the violence are attacked and shot at on the roads they hoped would lead to safety.
Syrian organizations and groups are therefore calling for an immediate ceasefire, including the stopping of the use of all kinds of weaponry on civilian targets, in order to give civilians time to leave the attacked areas in safety.
According to partners of PAX in Syria, a local ceasefire was agreed to today in Maaret al-Numan, one of the cities under attack. But civilians who wanted to make use of the ceasefire were shot at on the two designated escape routes. A school that served as a shelter for refugees was also hit.
PAX fears for the fate of the civilians and refugees in Idlib. They are on the run from the advancing regime and the violence of war, but are actually trapped because the border with Turkey has been closed.
Cities and villages are being depopulated as part of the strategy of the Syrian regime. PAX fears that the depopulation will be permanent, as is the case in the areas previously conquered by the regime.
The attacks on civilians and refugees, and large-scale expulsion of people can take place unhindered. According to a PAX partner, “(…) Christmas is a perfect time to go to war. Everyone has their minds on the holidays and has no attention for the horrors in Syria”.
PAX therefore calls on policymakers and politicians not to look away, and to use all available mechanisms and resources available to the international community to ensure the cessation of combat and attacks on civilians, to monitor compliance, to prevent permanent displacement and to protect refugees and civilians in Idlib and to provide immediate assistance to those in need.