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Thursday, 18 February 2016 15:02

Russian Airstrikes Displace 150,000 Syrians in Northern Rural Aleppo

The escalating Russian airstrikes on northern rural Aleppo are forcing more people to flee their homes. It is estimated that over 150,000 people have been displaced as a result of the Russian bombing campaign, the majority of whom have sought refuge near the Aleppo-Turkish border while the rest have moved to rebel-held towns and villages in Idlib province.

The Syrian Coalition said that “through the ongoing onslaught on Aleppo, Russia seeks to tip the balance of power on the ground in favor of the Assad regime, with the aim of imposing a political solution favorable to the Russians.”

The mass exodus from northern rural Aleppo began early February in the wake of a massive two-pronged assault by Iranian-led foreign militias and the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) militias backed by close Russian air cover.

The Russian bombing campaign has not spared schools, hospitals, and houses of worship even though Russian has signed off on the Munich agreement which calls for “cessation of hostilities.” At least 300 civilians, including women and children, were killed and many more injured in the ongoing Russian airstrikes on Syria.

Civilians who have fled northern rural Aleppo towards the Turkish border live in squalid humanitarian conditions as a result of the scarcity of basic life necessities, particularly clothing and food. Crammed in a narrow strip of land with an area of 10 square kilometers, many tents house more than one family.

World Vision, a humanitarian organization that provides aid to the internally displaced people on the Turkish border, spoke about the suffering of children in these camps. The health of hundreds of children began to decline upon arriving in the IDP’s camps due to the poor living conditions. There were 14 cases of miscarriage recorded as panicking pregnant women made their way to the Turkish border.

World Vision also said that around 750 people with disabilities are in urgent need for adequate health care. It noted that the children hospital and the obstetrics hospital in Azaz had to close after they were repeatedly hit by the Russian airstrikes on the town.

The Syrian Coalition said the ongoing onslaught by pro-Assad forces on the city of Aleppo is designed to encircle the city and cut it off from its northern countryside. As regime forces continue to push north towards the Turkish border, supply routes to the liberated areas will be cut off. This scenario, the Syrian Coalition warned, would lead to a situation similar to what happened in eastern Ghouta and Madaya, which have been subjected to suffocating siege by pro-regime forces.

The Syrian Coalition stressed that “the Russian-backed offensive on Aleppo by regime forces and allied militias highlights the fact that the United States is on the retreat in the region, and that it is giving a direct mandate to the Russians to act in Syria by showing a disinterest in the situation in Syria, with its role reduced to diplomatic mediating between the conflicting parties.”

“The current situation in and around Aleppo represents a test to the seriousness of the Friends of the Syrian people in supporting the Syrian Revolution, as Assad continues to aggravate the humanitarian situation and export the problem to countries in the region and beyond,” the Syrian Coalition added. (Source: Syrian Coalition + Al-Arabi al-Jadeed)