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  • Assad’s offensive on Idlib creating a ‘Gaza in Syria’, says aid group head

Assad’s offensive on Idlib creating a ‘Gaza in Syria’, says aid group head

14 Feb 2020
Syrian civilians flee from Idlib in rain toward the north to find safety inside Syria near the border with Turkey on Feb. 13, 2020 amid an offensive by Assad forces. (AP Photo)
Syrian civilians flee from Idlib in rain toward the north to find safety inside Syria near the border with Turkey on Feb. 13, 2020 amid an offensive by Assad forces. (AP Photo)
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Updated 14 Feb 2020
14 Feb 2020
  • 800,000 Syrians flee toward Turkish border amid relentless Russian-led offensive

Menekse Tokyay, Ankara

Over 800,000 Syrians, the vast majority women and children, have fled their homes from a relentless Russian-led Syrian military campaign in northwest Syria since Dec. 1, David Swanson, a senior UN spokesperson, said on Thursday.

The head of the International Rescue Committee aid group warned that the fighting around an opposition holdout is a “clear and present threat” to regional peace.

David Miliband said that President Bashar Assad’s offensive on Idlib was creating a “Gaza in Syria” with millions of people crammed into a tiny space beset with violence.

Separately, Syria’s parliament recognized the 1915-1917 killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians as genocide, as tensions run high with Turkey after deadly clashes in northwest Syria.

The move comes after weeks of tensions between Ankara and Damascus over deadly clashes between their forces in Syria.

Syrian civilians flee from Idlib in rain toward the north to find safety inside Syria near the border with Turkey on Feb. 13, 2020 amid an offensive by Assad forces. (AP Photo)

Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara office director of the German Marshall Fund of the US, said Erdogan has responded to escalation by changing the rules of engagement.

“Assad has not fought a regular battle against a state actor since the beginning of the conflict. With the ongoing deployments in Syria, Turkey is building a force that is clearly superior to Assad’s,” he told Arab News.

“Erdogan feels he can cope with the Russia factor thanks to strong support from the US. Not only is Turkey not isolated in Idlib, but it could also decrease its overall isolation through its bold policy in the region,” Unluhisarcikli said.

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