Close to half a million people in Syria have been displaced from their homes in the past three months, refugees in the making, who would have sought safety with their neighbours across the border if the doors hadn’t been shut in their faces.
Let that number sink in for a moment. Half a million rendered homeless, running for their lives. They fled rebel-held areas in the provinces of Idlib and Hama between April and July, trying to escape death at the hands of militias loyal to Bashar Al Assad or Russian fighter jets.
Entire cities emptied of their inhabitants, ghost towns where homes, schools, playgrounds will soon be razed.
The Assad regime’s campaign to reclaim Idlib, the last province under rebel control, is now in its fourth month. Over the past three years, the regime clawed back much of the country in a series of scorched-earth campaigns that led to thousands of civilian deaths and incalculable destruction, backed by the Russian air force and pro-Iranian militias.
Other than territories in the north, under the control of Turkish proxies, and former ISIS areas in the north-east, controlled by the Americans and their Kurdish paramilitary allies, Idlib is still outside the government’s remit. Home to hundreds of thousands of refugees from other parts of Syria, it has fallen under the tyrannical rule of extremists once affiliated with Al Qaeda.
Assad’s forces have yet to achieve any major advances in Idlib, but have continued to wreak wanton death and destruction. The absence of international action, or even the bare minimum outcry, is indicative of the level of war crimes and breach of norms we have come to tolerate as an international community. [Continue reading…]