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Assad’s Shells Hit  Afflicted Village Day And Night

IDPs taking advantage of the relative calm during the ceasefire to move the furniture of their destroyed houses in the southern Idlib countryside - 6 September, 2019( Enab Baladi )

IDPs taking advantage of the relative calm during the ceasefire to move the furniture of their destroyed houses in the southern Idlib countryside - 6 September, 2019( Enab Baladi )

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In the southern Idlib countryside, northwest of Khan Shaykhun, a village by the name Ma’aret Hurmah or Harnabel lies, enduring a constant artillery shelling by the Syrian regime forces.

 The village is attacked day and night, sending massive numbers of civilian residents out of their homes, who seek protection near the bordres, being the safest area away from the range of artillery bombing and rocket launchers.  

Incalculable, exceeding one hundred shells however, is the number of mortars and missiles that Ma’aret Hurmah is being hit with every day, landing on civilian houses and surrounding farms, as documented by activists from the southern Idlib countryside in the past few days.

The artillery shelling is a violation of the ceasefire, which managed to stop warplanes and helicopters while failing to limit the violence of cannons and rocket launchers, stationed by the Syrian regime at the Nimer/Tiger checkpoint in the northern side of Khan Shaykhun.

This account of the daily tragedy of Ma’aret Hurmah applies to the rest of the cities and towns in the southern Idlib countryside, which share the same catastrophic fate, as they are relentlessly battered by the Syrian regime forces’ canons.

The Ma’aret Hurmah village, however, makes for a special case, with its local council announcing it an affiliated area, following the displacement of all its residents and the great destruction of its infrastructure and residential buildings.

Iyad Abdul Jawad, Enab Baladi’s correspondent for rural Hama,  visits Ma’aret Hurmah every day, documenting the artillery and rocket shelling on the village.

Only four people remained in the village, Abdul Jawad reported, while the rest of the population escaped to other areas in Idlib’s countryside because the Syrian regime forces do not hesitate to attack every time a movement is monitored in the village.

 

Supply route 

The intensive targeting of the village by the Syrian regime forces is not normal due to several reasons, which are topped by its proximity to the frontline that changed after the Syrian regime forces, backed by Russia, controlled Khan Shaykhun and its surrounding areas _ Murak, al-Tamanah, Hobait and Kafr Nabudah.

The second reason is that Ma’aret Hurmah has been used as a supply route for the Syrian opposition factions, being located on the road connecting the countrysides of Idlib and Hama.

The village today has a strategic location that did not exist before, created by the military operations undertaken by the Syrian regime forces and its Russian ally against the area.

According to the map of field control, Ma’aret Hurmah is situated in the middle of several towns and villages, including Maar Zeina, Jabala, Maarat al Sin, Termla and Sheikh Mustafa, in addition to functioning as the first line in defense of the city of Kafr Nabl.

Ma’aret Hurmah is also a major bridge for the opposition factions, both the National Front for Liberation (NFL) and the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which forces are distributed in the southern and eastern rural parts of Idlib and the western Hama countryside.

The village suffered intense raids by the Russian and Syrian regime warplanes within the latest offensive that targeted the area despite the conglomeration of the Turkish forces in Maar Hatat town, which failed to stop missiles and shells that eventually became the village’s daily routine, documented by activists and the people residing in nearby areas.

 

Destruction rate 85%

In an interview with Enab Baladi, the head of Ma’aret Hurmah’s local council, Diaa Haj Ahmad, said that the town had, at a certain point, embraced the majority of the people displaced from the northern countryside of Hama.

Nevertheless, Ma’aret Hurmah is currently void of its population. Its houses and infrastructures are destroyed due to heavy shelling conducted from the checkpoints around Khan Shaykhun, which also rendered 26 of its civilian residents dead.

Before the displacement, Haj Ahmad said, the population of the Ma’aret Hurmah village was estimated at 25 thousand people.

The village has already been declared a devastated area since the beginning of the military campaign on the countryside of Idlib, with a rate of destruction amounting to 85%.

On daily basis, the village is exposed to more than 100 artillery shells, Haj Ahmed added, pointing out that the local council appealed to all humanitarian organizations to support people with shelter and relief aid, but all was in vain.

“There has been no answer on the grounds that all humanitarian organizations are under enormous pressure to offer aid.”

The head of Ma’aret Hurmah’s local council indicated that the humanitarian organizations told them, “you have to check with the local councils in your areas, for they are the ones concerned with your affair.” This is the reason why the local council of Ma’aret Hurmah had no role in the areas of displacement.

Following the displacement of Ma’aret Hurmah village’s population, the local council worked on preparing lists of families in each area they sought to offer the needed support.

“We have not received any response,” Haj Ahmad emphasized, calling on humanitarian organizations to directly address the displaced local councils.

 

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