Monday, November 19, 2018 | ePaper

UN commission calls on rebels to leave cities in Syria`s Idlib

  • Print


A rebel fighter from the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front takes part in combat training in Syria's last major rebel bastion Idlib.

AFP, Beirut :
A UN commission on Wednesday called on rebel groups in Syria's Idlib province to leave urban areas to protect civilians from any looming regime assault.
The proposal comes after the United Nations' peace envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, last week suggested a deadline be set for fighters in Idlib to pull back from its cities.
UN agencies and relief organisations have warned repeatedly that any major assault on the province of Idlib, which borders Turkey, could spark one of the worst humanitarian disasters of Syria's seven-year war.
On Wednesday, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria called for jihadists and opposition fighters to leave the most densely populated areas in the region where some three million people live.
"Most of those terrorist groups and other armed groups, they are in the cities. Perhaps one wonderful scenario is: leave the cities," commission chief Paulo Pinheiro said.
Hany Magally, a fellow panel member, said: "Shouldn't the armed groups move out and spare the civilian population?"
Idlib and adjacent areas are largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance led by Al-Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate, as well as rival rebels. HTS controls the provincial capital Idlib city.
The northwestern region has seen its population almost double with the arrival of Syrians displaced from other parts of the country, many of whom already depend on aid. "All the other disasters would be minor events compared to what can happen in Idlib," Pinheiro said.
On Wednesday, intermittent artillery fire hit southern districts of Idlib province and adjacent rebel-held areas of Hama province, a Britain-based monitor said.
But for the second day in a row there were no air raids, after deadly strikes and barrel bombing at the weekend, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
In the south of Idlib, a man told AFP he and his family had returned to their home after fleeing for their lives on Monday.
"I fled two days ago after the regime targeted us with air strikes and barrel bombs," Abu Ammar said in the southern district of Hobait.
"But with warplanes on hold since yesterday, we've come back home."
Since September 4, shelling and air strikes by the regime and Russia have killed at least 15 civilians in the rebel-held zone, the Observatory says. On Friday, rebel backer Turkey and regime allies Russian and Iran failed to reach an agreement in Tehran to avoid a regime assault on Idlib.
On Tuesday, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned a full-scale battle on Idlib "would unleash a humanitarian nightmare unlike any seen in the blood-soaked Syrian conflict".
More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced in Syria's war since it started in 2011.
·    IS hostages -

In the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, US-backed fighters were battling to oust IS from the town of Hajin on the east bank of the Euphrates, the most significant remnant of the jihadists' "caliphate" which once spanned Syria and Iraq.
The operation "will clear remnants of (IS) from northeastern Syria along the Middle Euphrates River Valley toward the Syria-Iraq border," the US-led coalition said.
Since Monday, the battle for Hajin has killed 36 jihadists and 11 fighters from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, the Observatory said.
Despite a number of military campaigns against them, IS fighters are still present in Deir Ezzor, as well as in the vast desert that stretches from Damascus to the Iraqi border.
Regime forces have been battling IS for weeks in the southern province of Sweida, ever since the jihadists killed more than 250 people in attacks on its provincial capital and nearby villages in late July.
During their rampage, IS fighters also kidnapped around 30 people, most of them women and their children from the Druze religious minority.
IS has since announced the death of an elderly woman and the execution of a 19-year-old male student.
According to a local source, families of a number of hostages received a video on Wednesday showing around 30 people.
In the footage, which was seen by AFP but could not be independently verified, a woman says she is speaking on Tuesday and that the group is being held by IS.
She accuses the Damascus regime and its Russian ally of inaction over the kidnapping and appeals for help to secure the group's release.
Late Monday, 21 regime fighters were killed in an IS ambush in Sweida's volcanic plateau of Tulul al-Safa.

More News For this Category

US peace envoy hopes for deal with Taliban in 2019

US peace envoy hopes for deal with Taliban in 2019

Reuters, Kabul :The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan hopes to cement a peace deal with Taliban insurgents by April 2019, local media reported on Sunday.The U.S. envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, who

Sri Lankan President seeks talks to end power struggle

Sri Lankan President seeks talks to end power struggle

AFP, Colombo :Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday called crucial talks with political leaders in a bid to end a power struggle with the prime minister he sacked last

Macron's popularity falls to 25 pc: Poll

Macron's popularity falls to 25 pc: Poll

AFP, Paris :The popularity of French President Emmanuel Macron has dropped to just 25 percent, according to a major tracker poll published on Sunday.The poll by research group Ifop was

No ‘final conclusion’ on Khashoggi killing, say US

No ‘final conclusion’ on Khashoggi killing, say US

AFP, Washington  :The US government has not reached a final conclusion over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the State Department said Saturday following reports that the CIA had held the

Anti-IS coalition raids kill 43 in east Syria

Anti-IS coalition raids kill 43 in east Syria

AFP, Beirut :Air strikes by the US-led coalition Saturday killed 43 people, mostly civilians, in a holdout of the Islamic State group in eastern Syria, a Britain-based monitor said.Seventeen children

News In Brief

15,000 killed in Russian road accidents in 2018 so farTass, MoscowAbout 15,000 people have been killed in road accidents in Russia so far in 2018, Russia's General Administration for Traffic

US opposes UN resolution condemning Israel's occupation of Golan Heights

US opposes UN resolution condemning Israel's occupation of Golan Heights

AFP, United Nations :For the first time, the United States voted Friday against an annual UN resolution condemning Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights, dropping its practice of abstaining in

As China-US friction rises, their armies hold joint disaster drills

As China-US friction rises, their armies hold joint disaster drills

Reuters, Nanjing :Soldiers from China and the United States wrapped up a week of joint disaster relief drills on Saturday, in a display of cooperation against a backdrop of worsening

Cygnus cargo ship launches to ISS

AFP, United States :An unmanned Cygnus cargo ship blasted off Saturday toward the International Space Station, marking the second supply mission in 24 hours destined to carry food and supplies

US-China discord dominates APEC summit in Papua New Guinea

US-China discord dominates APEC summit in Papua New Guinea

Reuters, Port Moresby :The United States and China swapped barbs over trade, investment and regional security at an Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit on Saturday, as growing fault lines