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3 Million Civilians At Risk As Syria Braces for the Bloody Finale to its Long Civil War

During Syria's long civil war civilians have been pushed around the country as they attempted to avoid the worst of the violence. Many sought refuge in Idlib province, now the last strong-hold of anti-Assad rebels. Over the last month Russia, Turkey, and Iran have joined Assad in massing their forces around Idlib as the nation prepares for its last bloody offensive. The battle for this province on the border of Turkey in the northwest of Syria will put up to 3 million internal refugees at risk.

The Guardian: Ahead of a strike, expected by regional officials within two weeks, the potential scale of the humanitarian crisis is causing widespread alarm. The bombardment of a tightly packed population, many of whom live under primitive shelter, with irregular supplies, will inevitably force an exodus towards Turkey’s tightly sealed border, or a swathe of northern Syria that has been under its control for 18 months.

Turkey has not yet decided whether it will allow refugees into the area, known as the Euphrates Shield Zone. It has been pushing Russia to hold off on launching an attack. Turkish officials said on Friday that they had little leverage over Moscow and feared a strike could be launched by a Russian naval group as early as next week.

Voice of America: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed deep concern Wednesday that there could be a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the Syrian province of Idlib if there is a full-scale military operation there.

Calls for restraint from the United Nations are mostly falling on deaf ears and the United States has said little except to warn all sides about the use of chemical weapons. Right now there is no reason to believe that the battle won't begin within the next few weeks. Russia will lead the charge.

Reuters: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that militants in Idlib had to be liquidated, describing them as “a festering abscess”.

Everyone understands what is about to happen here and it will be horrendous.


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