As the Assad regime seeks to reassert its grip over Syria, a humanitarian crisis threatens to leave thousands dead and millions displaced during winter.
The deepening humanitarian crisis in Idlib shows no signs of abating as the Assad regime backed by Iran and Russia bombard civilian areas in one of the last rebel strongholds in Syria.
Syrian correspondent Anas Tracey speaking to TRT World from inside Idlib confirmed that over the last 24 hours at least 12 civilians have been killed by the Assad regime as they seek to target Sarmin a town in the Idlib countryside.
In December of last year, the Assad regime began a brutal campaign which has resulted in the bombardment of hospitals and refugee shelters which in the past week alone has led to more than 200 civilian deaths.
Turkey has deployed hundreds of troops at the border with Syria and inside Idlib as the Assad regime seeks to take over the region which could lead to the displacement of more than 3.5 million civilians to seek refuge in Turkey.
Earlier this month the UN estimated that more than 300,000 civilians have been displaced, and more than 175,000 of those are children, within the Idlib region with many moving closer to the Turkish border.
The situation on the ground in Idlib is “really desperate” says TRT World ’s Obaido Hitto reporting from inside Idlib.
“The regime continues to bomb civilian areas including hospitals, schools, marketplaces and the main roads as people try and escape the bombardment,” Hitto went on to add that, “we have seen large convoys of people and thousands of vehicles on the road with their personal belongings packed,” attempting to flee Russian and Assad regime bombardment.
Syrians who remain in Idlib are desperate for food, shelter and safety during the harsh winter in the region.
The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) announced in January that it would seek to increase the amount of food it would deliver to Idlib as the conflict has intensified.
Because Idlib is under siege, the only way for food to get in is from Turkey which could become more difficult as the Assad regime indiscriminately targets any attempts to aid civilians.
An aid worker in Idlib speaking on condition of anonymity to TRT World criticised factions seeking to uphold the Syrian revolution for not preparing for the displacement and the coming attack on the region.
“There is no real strategy. Locals are now taking things into their own hands and working to secure the fronts.”
“It has become clear to all that they [Revolutionary forces] have no defensive strategy whatsoever for Idlib even though they have had plenty of time to prepare for these kinds of scenarios. The people here are furious and are making their own formations as we speak to repel the regime and defend the areas,” added the aid worker.
Idlib has become one of the final strongholds of the resistance in Syria therefore for many civilians and fighters alike, the regime push to take over the region is a do or die moment.
Turkey has warned the international community that Idlib risks becoming a full-blown humanitarian crisis that risks spilling over into Turkey — which is already supporting more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees — and also into Europe.