Sat 21 Sep 2019

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Reconnaissance Aircraft Haunt Besieged Civilians of Idlib

Personnel of the Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets) evacuating the people affected by the bombing that targeted the town of Fatterah, southern Idlib – June 15, 2019 (Enab Baladi)

Personnel of the Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets) evacuating the people affected by the bombing that targeted the town of Fatterah, southern Idlib – June 15, 2019 (Enab Baladi)

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Rural Hama – Khalid al-Qasem is afraid of leaving his house in Maar Tahroma, southern rural Idlib, scared of being chased and considered a target for the shelling by the reconnaissance aircraft that is monitoring every single move in the escalation zone in Northern Syria.

Khalid and his family, besieged after failing to escape the area with a massive portion of the population, is striving to obtain his household’s basic needs. However, the reconnaissance planes are not abandoning the area’s aerial space, not for a second, as to give the warplanes the coordinates of civil targets, he thus put it to Enab Baladi.

The northern and western rural parts of Hama, as well as the southern parts of Idlib are subjected to an extensive campaign of military escalation, which so far has caused the death of 659 persons, 189 of whom are children, in addition to the displacement of more than 503 thousand persons as of last February to June 9, according to reports by the Response Coordinators.

Civilians are Targets to Warplanes

Since the dawn of the military campaign, the reconnaissance aircraft have never abandoned the aerial space of northern and western rural Hama and southern rural Idlib, says the Sheikh Ahmad Observatory, in charge of monitoring air traffic in the area.

The observatory adds: “A massive percentage of civilians are yet stuck at their houses, after they failed to flee for a variety of reasons. They are hiding in shelters, groves and some caves, escaping the constant aerial and missile attacks on the markets and residential neighborhoods.”

This situation resulted in the besiegement of the civilians left in the areas the military campaign covers, despite these areas being 40 to 50 km away from the confrontation posts, the observatory said, describing the campaign as a systematic one aiming at targeting civilians.

Poverty Triggered People to Rule Out Displacement as a Choice

Citizens, whom Enab Baladi has interviewed, say that they preferred to stay at their houses, the caves or the groves for not having the expenses of the displacement journey and transportation to safer villages, given the ever-rising rents at the Turkish borders, for a house today cannot be rented for less than a $100.

Since official statistics are almost nonexistent, Observatory No. 20, specialized in tracking the changes in the map of territorial control, estimates the number of civilians stuck in these villages with about 10% of their original population, the majority of which has left to safer areas deep in the governorate.

The UN has called for the necessity to prevent any attacks against civilians and infrastructure in Idlib governorate.

“Combatting terrorism does not absolve any party from its legal obligations under international humanitarian law to prevent attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure,” Najat Rochdi, Senior Humanitarian Adviser to the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, said in a press release on Thursday, June 6.

She added: “[Such assaults] may amount to war crimes.  We have a collective responsibility to the victims of this conflict, many of whom are too young to try to make sense of this senseless war”.

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