UN says 120,000 Syrians displaced by Russian air strikes

UN estimates 120,000 Syrians displaced by Russian air strikes in Aleppo, Idlib and Hama

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A boy walks amid damaged buildings in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria October 26, 2015.

The United Nations has raised its estimates for Syrians displaced in the past month from 50,000 to 120,000 in its first report released regarding the humanitarian crisis resulting from recent Russian air strikes in the country.

According to the report, released on Monday by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the displacement has mianly occurred in the Syrian governorates of Aleppo, Hama and Idlib, where Russia has been focusing the majority of its air strikes.

Russia began its aerial campaign over Syria on Sept. 30, initially saying it would be targeting positions held by the ISIS terrorist group, but concerns were raised when it appeared that the majority of Russian air strikes were targeting the Syrian opposition fighting against Bashar al Assad’s regime.

Moscow claims to have destroyed at least 800 targets in Syria in the past month, but the US and its opposition Free Syrian Army-affiliated allies on the ground have said they have also been hit by Russian air strikes.

The UN report says that at least 80,000 of those displaced by the Russian air strikes left the Hama and Idlib governorates, but this figure could surpass 100,000. Almost 45,000 people were also displaced in the Aleppo governorate between Oct. 15 and Oct. 25, primarily from the districts of Al-Hader, Tel ed-Daman and Jebel Saman.

"Eyewitnesses have recounted incidents of civilians vacating entire villages in anticipation of further government expansion in the area. Al-Hader, a town of 25,000 people has been completely emptied out over the last week," the report said.

Those fleeing their homes headed north towards the Kurdish-held territories along the Turkish border, with some crossing into Turkey through the Bab al-Hawa crossing, the report added.

The report also recorded six instances of health facilities being hit by the air strikes between the dates of Oct. 1 and Oct. 23.

On Oct. 20, two health workers and 10 civilians were killed when an air strike which hit a clinic in the Sarmin district of Idlib and another health facility in Muhradah, central Hama, according to health agencies.

Hospitals and health facilities in Aleppo, particularly in the Jabal Saman sub-district, were hit five times. A number of casualties were reported when two field hospitals in the governorate were bombed, causing their "immediate closure due to severe infrastructural damage."

A third field hospital in Aleppo was also partially damaged in an air strike, the report stated.

Furthermore, the report cited de-mining groups as stating that two women and three children in the Kafar Karmsin district in Idlib were killed by cluster bombs, while three more children were killed in the Aleppo countryside.

Over 5,000 families have been affected by the bombing of a wheat mill on Oct. 13 that was producing 100 tonnes of flour a day.

A further 700,000 people in regime-held territories in western Aleppo are at risk after ISIS terrorists advanced on the road connecting Hama and Aleppo on Oct. 23.

More than 250,000 people have been killed in Syria since the war started between the Assad regime and opposition forces in the shadow of the Arab Spring movement that swept a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

At least 6.7 million Syrians have been displaced internally, while another 5 million have fled the country to the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.

Around half a million refugees, mostly Syrians, have also moved on to Europe, creating the worst refugee crisis to hit the continent since World War II.

TRTWorld and agencies