The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday a Syrian government offensive on the last major rebel-held province of Idlib left 20 civilians dead — including at least nine children — after Russian-backed Syrian forces targeted schools and hospitals for attack. The deaths were reported as Turkish-backed opposition fighters said they’ve captured a strategic northwestern town near a junction of two major highways. The violence in Idlib has forced hundreds of thousands — and by some accounts over 1 million — people to flee to squalid camps near the Turkish border. A spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross on Tuesday warned against further attacks on hospitals and schools and demanded safe passage for civilians.
Ruth Hetherington: “The International Committee of the Red Cross is deeply alarmed by the rapidly deteriorating security and living conditions of the hundreds of thousands of newly displaced civilians in the Idlib area who are running out of options to find basic safety for themselves and their families. This is the worst wave of displacement we’ve seen during the Syrian conflict. Now with the harsh winter conditions in Idlib, we see people trapped, isolated and running out of ways to cope.”