Some 800,000 people who are already living in difficult conditions may be further displaced if the Assad regime and its allies strike the opposition-held Idlib region, the UN warned on Wednesday.
In an interview with AFP, a representative of the United Nations Humanitarian Coordination Office (OCHA) said such an attack could be catastrophic.
“We fear that — should there be an increased escalation of hostilities in that area — up to 800,000 people could be displaced and that the number of people who are in need of humanitarian assistance, which is already high, could increase dramatically,” said Linda Tom.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also warned of the growing risk of a humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib province in Syria if there is a full-scale military operation by the Assad regime and its allies.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday that Guterres urgently appeals to the Assad regime to exercise restraint and make the protection of civilians a priority.
Guterres called on Russia, Iran and Turkey as guarantor states trying to end the violence in Syria to find a peaceful solution in Idlib. He invited the three countries to attend a new round of talks on Syria on September 11-12.
The Assad regime has recently threatened to launch a major military offensive to recapture the province of Idlib and areas beyond its control in Latakia province following its recent recapture of the southern provinces of Dara’a and Quneitra with direct military Russian support.
The Syrian Coalition for earlier warned that any attack by the Assad regime and its allies on Idlib will have tragic consequences, pointing out that the offensive that the regime and its allies are planning to launch in the province risks undermining the efforts of the international community and all chances of peace.
Idlib is covered by the ‘de-escalation zones” agreement which was reached by Turkey, Russia and Iran during the Astana talks in May 2017. Turkey and Russia set up military observation military posts in and around the province to monitor the agreement. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)