Amman, 14 August 2018
I am appalled over the reported deaths of at least 116 civilians, many of them women and children, in Idleb and Aleppo governorates over the weekend due to ongoing violence and hostilities.
This extreme violence is completely unacceptable. I remain deeply concerned for the safety and protection of the millions of civilians living in this area, many of them displaced multiple times, and am alarmed such incidents are part of a further escalation of the conflict in the area.
A military operation in Idleb and surrounding areas similar to what was seen in other parts of Syria will not only endanger many of the more than 3 million civilians in this densely populated area, but will likely severely impact humanitarian partners’ ability to deliver life-saving assistance.
On Friday alone, heavy airstrikes on Big Orem town in western rural Aleppo Governorate reportedly killed at least 37 people, over half of whom were children, and injured dozens more.
Separately, at least nine people were reportedly killed and at least 40 people were injured, including women and children, after shelling on the town of Khan Shaykun in southern rural Idleb, while two people reportedly lost their lives after barrel bombs were dropped on the village of Tah and one person was killed in shelling on the village of Tahtay in southern rural Idleb.
On Sunday, at least 67 civilians lost their lives, 17 of them children, when a weapons and ammunition depot in a residential building near Sarmada town in northern rural Idleb Governorate exploded, injuring dozens more. Seventeen people were rescued from under the debris.
The UN condemns these horrific attacks directed against civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools. UN-sponsored peace talks should prioritize gaining the commitment of all parties to stop attacks on such infrastructure which are essential to the civilian population.
It is imperative all parties to the conflict and those with influence over them to come to a genuine and inclusive agreement to settle the conflict in Syria in a peaceful manner, to prevent the further suffering of the Syrian people. Civilians should not and must not be a target.
The humanitarian community reminds all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians and to spare no effort to prevent civilian casualties.