After the Syrian regime's involvement in southwestern Syria, its attention is shifting to the province of Idlib in the northwest of the country – the last remaining stronghold of opposition control.
An anticipated Syrian regime offensive against the opposition in Idlib province could displace more than 700,000 people, far more than were uprooted in a recent battle in the southwest of Syria, a UN-led group of health agencies said in a monthly report.
Many of Syria's battles have ended with agreements for fighters and their families departing for the Idlib governorate, where an influx of displaced people has roughly doubled the population to around 2.5 million.
One village where all the residents fled in the face of an offensive by pro-regime forces in Idlib this year was Al Surman. The majority have returned since the establishment in March of an observation post.
Twelve Turkish observation points have been set up in Idlib under an agreement with Russia and Iran. Residents say the posts give them a sense of security, but don't put all of their concerns to rest.
The monthly Health Cluster Bulletin, published by a group of health-focused aid agencies led by the World Health Organization, said aid workers were bracing for the Idlib battle.
"Increased hostilities are expected in the North West in the coming period, to result in displacements of 250,000 to over 700,000 people in Idlib and surrounding areas," the report said.
"This will cause an increased need for humanitarian assistance to the new vulnerable and host communities, especially emergency health services."
It's an assessment that Dr Kerem Kinik from the Turkish Red Crescent agrees with. He spoke to TRT World.
Between mid-June and the end of July, 184,000 people were displaced by a battle in the south and subsequent agreements to end the fighting there. Among the displaced, more than 10,000 went to Idlib and northern Aleppo, the report said.
The UN has repeatedly warned about the dangers of an attack on Idlib. Syria's Bashar al Assad said in a Russian media interview last month that Idlib would be a priority for his forces.
UN regional humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis said in June that the entire population of 2.5 million could be displaced and move towards the Turkish border if there was a major battle.
Such a battle would be much more complicated and brutal than anything seen so far in the seven-year war, he said.
The health cluster report included a map showing the breakdown of the population in southern and eastern parts of the area, suggesting that the displacement scenario was based on an attack by the regime from the south and east.
The map showed population estimates in four zones from the frontline up to the Latakia-Aleppo highway and the Hama-Aleppo highway, with a total of 993,000 people in those zones.
Idlib, under the control of anti-regime armed groups, was declared a "de-escalation zone" during peace talks between Russia, Turkey and Iran in Astana, Kazakhstan, in May last year.
Northwestern Idlib region is the largest populated area of Syria still in the hands of groups opposed to the Damascus regime of Bashar al Assad.
In recent years, tens of thousands of fighters and civilians have fled there from parts of the country which the regime army has recaptured with the help of Russia and Iran.
Despite Russia's agreement that Idlib is a de-escalation zone, the Assad regime and Russian forces regularly bomb the region. And it has not immune to offensives from pro-regime forces.
On such village is Al Surman, where the residents fled earlier this year when pro-regime forces mounted an offensive in Idlib province.
The majority have since returned after that observation post was established by Turkish forces in March.
Residents say the posts give them a sense of security, but don’t put all of their concerns to rest.
Twelve such observation points have been set up in Idlib under an agreement with Russia and Iran.