World U.N. hears plea from women in northwest Syria: 'We want the right to live'
'I Feel Like This Is the End': A Million Fleeing Syrians Trapped by Assad's Final Push
Desperate people are on the run from Syrian forces bearing down on the last rebel stronghold. Ahead of them is Turkey’s heavily guarded border.The family walked along darkened streets to the outskirts of Atarib and hid in an olive grove, waiting anxiously for a friend to ferry them away from the barrage. “It took about 40 minutes,” Mr. Akoush said of their escape on foot, “but it felt like a year.
By Michelle Nichols
The message was shared by deputy U.N. aid chief Ursula Mueller, who spoke via videolink to 14 Syrian women in Idlib and northern Aleppo last week.
U.N. says it fears 'bloodbath' in northwest Syria, Russia denies mass displacements
U.N. says it fears 'bloodbath' in northwest Syria, Russia denies mass displacementsSyrian troops backed by Russian air power have been battling since December to eliminate the last rebel strongholds in the region in a war that has killed an estimated 400,000 Syrians, displaced millions more and left much of the country in ruins.
"What is happening in northwest Syria, they said, is beyond imagination. It is not humanly tolerable. They told me of children so traumatized they no longer speak," Mueller said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, supported by Russian air power, have been fighting to retake the last large, rebel-held region in Syria after nine years of war. Turkey has sent thousands of troops and heavy military hardware into Idlib region in an unprecedented incursion to back the rebels.
Nearly a million Syrians have fled over the last three months, the biggest exodus of the conflict. A crackdown by Assad on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 led to civil war.
Syria’s worst humanitarian catastrophe in its 9-year civil war is now unfolding
Bashar al-Assad is trying to reclaim Idlib, the last rebel stronghold. Millions of civilians are paying the price.The fear that something bad will happen is ever-present in Idlib, now the last opposition-held province in Syria. The Syrian regime led by Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia in the air and pro-Iranian militias on the ground, is laying siege to the province in an attempt to take it back.
Mueller and Henrietta Fore, executive director of the U.N. children's agency UNICEF, told the Security Council that hospitals, schools and camps for displaced families had been hit in recent fighting.
"We've heard and read reports of children freezing to death," Fore said. "When wood runs out, families burn whatever they can find — plastic bags, garbage, discarded furniture — just to provide a flicker of heat against the cold, or a simple fire to cook whatever food they can find."
Defending Moscow's role in the conflict, Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia questioned why the United Nations and aid groups weren't more prepared to deal with millions of displaced people in Idlib during the winter.
"The humanitarian workers have plenty of resources so why hasn't this problem been resolved?" he asked.
In Syria and Libya, Trump Is Torn Over 2 Wars, and 2 Strongmen
President Trump has long sought to avoid confronting the leaders of Turkey and Russia — two foreign strongmen who are facing off in civil wars in Syria and Libya. But after an airstrike on Thursday that killed dozens of Turkish troops in northwest Syria, Mr. Trump may be forced to pick a side. Nominal allies, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey have each thrown military forces and other support into two bloody conflicts that have spawned vast human suffering, have threatened to upend a fragile stability in the Middle East and may send hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming into Europe.
Britain's deputy U.N. Ambassador Jonathan Allen responded: "The answer is because they're being bombed, they're being shelled, they're being attacked. It is extremely difficult indeed to provide assistance to people in those circumstances."
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, said that to end the humanitarian crisis in northwest Syria all efforts must be concentrated on establishing a durable and verifiable ceasefire.
"This will require Russia to ground its planes at once and tell the regime to pull back its forces," she told the council.
However, Nebenzia said: "The only long-term solution to the problem of Idlib and ... of Syria as a whole is a final and irreversible expulsion from the country of all terrorists. And please don't tell us we're exaggerating the problem."
Both Mueller and Fore appealed for action from the council, which has long been divided on how to deal with Syria. Russia had vetoed 14 draft resolutions during the war.
"Millions of Syrian children are crying tonight - from hunger and cold, from wounds and pain, from fear, loss and heartbreak," Fore said.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool)
Russian strikes kill 15 civilians in northwest Syria: monitor .
Russian air strikes Thursday killed at least 15 civilians including a child in the last major opposition bastion of Idlib in northwestern Syria, a Britain-based war monitor said. The strikes after midnight targeted an area where displaced Syrians had gathered outside the town of Maaret Misrin in Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.An AFP correspondent saw the bodies of some of the victims wrapped in thick winter blankets at a local hospital.A rescuer carried in the body of a baby girl, her mouth filled with grey debris and her pink pyjamas caked in dust.
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