• The north-west de-escalation area, comprising most of Idleb governorate, is home to approximately three million people, of whom 2.1 million are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance, including 1.4 million people, who are internally displaced persons.
• Since the beginning of September, there has been a significant increase in aerial bombardment and shelling IN north-west Syria compared to the whole of August.
• This increase in hostilities has caused civilian deaths and injuries, as well as, damage to vital civilian infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools and other service-related centers in north-west Syria.
• Between 1 – 12 September, available information indicates that a sharp increase in hostilities and fears of further escalation has led to the displacement of over 38,300 people, of whom over 4,500 are estimated to have spontaneously returned between 10 – 12 September, to their homes following a relative decrease in hostilities in Jisr Ash-Shugur and Mhambal sub-districts in western and southern rural Idleb.
The north-west de-escalation area, comprising most of Idleb governorate, is home to approximately three million people, of whom 2.1 million are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance. Around 1.4 million people are internally displaced persons (IDPs) from across Syria, as well as, people who had been displaced within the Idleb governorate. This includes around 95,000 IDPs, who arrived in north-west Syria under provisions made in local agreements reached between the parties to the conflict in previously besieged or hard to reach areas, such as East Ghouta, northern rural Homs and south-west Syria, between March and August of 2018.
Since the beginning of September, a worrying increase in hostilities was observed in the north-west de-escalation area. In comparison to the whole of August, available data indicates a threefold increase in aerial bombardment and accompanied by a significant escalation in shelling. While bombardment was reported on many parts of the north-west de-escalation area, the northern countryside of Hama and the southern countryside of Idleb were most affected.
Given the insecurity in the north-west, it was not possible to obtain a comprehensive list of all attacks and casualties. A United Nations report that does not purport to give the full list of casualties indicated that between 4 and 9 September, 33 people, including women and children, were killed and 67 were wounded due to aerial and ground-based bombardment. Of note was the death of five people, including four children, and the wounding of 12 people, including six children due to aerial and ground-based bombardment on the non-state armed group (NSAG) held town of Jisr Ash-Shugur on 4 September. Furthermore, nine people, including five women and three children, were killed and 22 were wounded in shelling on the Government of Syria (GoS) controlled town of Muhradah on 7 September.
Similar to previous periods of increased hostilities, numerous attacks on civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, in north-west Syria have been reported so far in September. On 6 September, an NGO-supported hospital in Kafar Zita town in northern rural Hama was allegedly hit by an airstrike and caused major structural and equipment damage. Subsequently the hospital was rendered out of service. This hospital was de-conflicted1 and provided an average of 780 consultations, 50 admissions, 15 major surgeries and 200 trauma case treatments monthly. On 8 September, an NGO-supported hospital in Hass town in southern rural Idleb was rendered out of service allegedly by aerial bombardment. Two hospital staff members and two other people were wounded. On the same day but in northern rural Hama, an NGO-supported hospital in Latmanah town reportedly went out of service, as a result of the heavy bombardment allegedly from air and ground-based strikes that hit within the vicinity of the hospital. On 8 September, in Khan Shaykun town in southern rural Idleb, an airstrike reportedly struck close to an ambulance center, causing damage to one of the center’s ambulances.
Education activities in the areas that have witnessed an increase in bombardment have been adversely affected. Since the beginning of September, education authorities in Jisr Ash-Shugur, Ma’arrat An Nu’man and Khan Shaykun sub-districts, as well as, northern rural Hama were forced to suspend activities on multiple occasions due to the increase in hostilities. The latest suspension occurred on 10 September in Khan Shaykun and Ma’arrat An Nu’man sub-districts after multiple shells hit a primary and secondary school in Jarjanaz town, reportedly wounding seven children, who were taken to a hospital. Their status remains unknown. The Education Directorate in Idleb reportedly gave authorization to all sub-district level education authorities to suspend activities depending on the security situation in their respective areas.
In addition to the attacks on education and health structures, on 6 September, airstrikes on Tamanaah town reportedly rendered a center managed by first responders out of service and caused damage to their equipment. On 8 September in Khan Shaykun town, another center run by first responders was rendered out of service. On the same day, an electrical sub-station in Kafr Ein village in Khan Shaykun sub-district was damaged by an airstrike.