Regime bombing kills 12 civilians in Syria’s northwest

A man evacuates a young casualty following a reported air strike by regime forces and their allies in the jihadist-held Syrian town of Maaret Al-Noman in the southern Idlib province, on May 26, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 27 May 2019
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Regime bombing kills 12 civilians in Syria’s northwest

  • A total of 20 health facilities have been hit by the escalation -- 19 of which remain out of service, according to the UN

MAARET AL-NUMAN/SYRIA: Regime airstrikes killed 12 civilians including four at a market on Sunday in a militant bastion in northwest Syria, a war monitor said.
A young girl was among those killed at the market in the town of Maaret Al-Numan in Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Eight other civilians were killed elsewhere by regime fire in Idlib, a stronghold of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, the Britain-based monitor said.
Idlib is supposed to be protected from a massive government offensive by a September buffer zone deal, but the opposition bastion has come under increasing bombardment by the regime and its Russian ally since late April.
An AFP reporter in Maaret Al-Numan saw a young man carry the arched body of what appeared to be a young girl out over grey rubble after the airstrike.
Another man retrieved a distressed, dust-covered young girl, slung over his shoulder. Witness Hamdu Mustafa said he was out shopping when the airstrike hit.
Everybody was “in the street selling and buying,” he told AFP.
“The planes targeted civilians who were buying food for their children,” he said. Nearby, rescue workers known as the White Helmets directed a bulldozer to clear the debris. Fighting has raged to the south of the bastion in recent days.

BACKGROUND

Idlib is supposed to be protected from a massive government offensive by a September buffer zone deal, but the opposition bastion has come under increasing bombardment by the regime and its Russian ally since late April.

On Sunday, regime forces took back control of the town of Kafr Nabuda in the north of Hama province, the Observatory and state news agency SANA said.
HTS and allied rebels overran part of the town in recent days, after the regime first expelled them on May 8.
The United Nations has warned that an all-out offensive on the Idlib region would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe for its nearly three million residents.
The Observatory says more than 230 civilians have been killed in the spike in violence since the end of April.
More than 200,000 civilians have already been displaced by this upsurge of violence, the United Nations has said.
A total of 20 health facilities have been hit by the escalation -- 19 of which remain out of service, according to the UN.


In Syria’s Idlib, education a casualty of war

A displaced Syrian girl carries books on her head near a bus converted into a classroom in the village of Hazano in northwestern Syria. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2019

In Syria’s Idlib, education a casualty of war

  • The conditions are dire however, with camp manager Hammud Al-Sayah explaining initial planning was done for 50 children, yet attendees now top 375

HAZANO, SYRIA: Near the village of Hazano in northwestern Syria, children come running through the olive groves every morning to meet the bus that brings school to their improvised tented camp.
Years of fighting and displacement in Idlib province have wrought chaos for the education of children, destroying schools and scattering families into homelessness across the countryside.
More than 400,000 people have been displaced since April alone, when the Russian-backed regime upped its deadly bombardment of the opposition-dominated enclave.
“These children can’t go to school, it’s too far from where they are,” said Farid Bakir, a local program manager with Syria Relief, the charity that launched the bus project.
In Hazano camp, the children get in line and hope to be among those who squeeze into the bus for a few hours.
A whiteboard is installed in the back, a thick carpet laid on the floor and a few dozen small desks, also used as chairs, are rearranged depending on the activity.
The ceiling is too low for the teacher to stand fully upright but Hussein Ali Azkour, a young boy wearing a yellow T-shirt, is enthusiastic about his classroom-on-wheels.
“The difference between a normal school and the bus, is that the bus is air-conditioned. It’s better than a thousand schools,” he said.
“When we fled here, there was no school and they started bringing the buses. If these buses were to stop coming, we would have no education and learn nothing.”
The buses cater only for ages ranging from five to 12 and include classes in Arabic, mathematics, science and sometimes English, as well as singing and drawing.
Since the project was launched in May, around 1,000 children have benefitted from the bus program, Bakir said.
That is a drop in the ocean of problems children, who represent more than half of the Idlib region’s 3 million inhabitants, are facing. According to Save the Children, the heavy bombardment since late April has damaged or otherwise impacted 87 educational facilities, while a further 200 are being used as shelters for those the violence displaced.
The UK-based NGO says some parents have been pleading with them to shut down schools for fear they would be targeted in regime air strikes.
“As the new school year starts, the remaining functional schools can only accommodate up to 300,000 of the 650,000 school-age children,” it said.
Ragheb Hassoun’s children are among the few who have been fortunate enough to receive a few hours a week of lessons through the bus project, but he says the situation is not tenable.
“We want something permanent — a school on the land where we live,” the 28-year-old said.
He and his family have been displaced several times since the start of the conflict in Syria eight years ago.

NUMBER 300K

schoolchildren out of the 650,000 can be accommodated in the remaining functional schools as the new school year starts, according to Save the Children.

Hassoun said he would be happy if his children could at least go to school during normal hours in a tent at the camp.
This is what children have in a larger camp near Dana, north of the city of Idlib, where the local school is housed under two large UN tents.
The conditions are dire however, with camp manager Hammud Al-Sayah explaining initial planning was done for 50 children, yet attendees now top 375.
Books underarm — or with bags strapped to backs — pupils are squeezed around black desks, while those unable to find a seat perch cross-legged on the floor.
Children who are four or five years apart attend the same classes.
“The pressure is huge,” Sayah said, admitting that the schooling conditions have a serious impact on the quality of education.
At 10 years of age, Abdel Razaq knows that his education is being compromised.
Standing in front of the white tent he has come to call his school, he said he dreams of a big building “where the number of children in each class is lower.”
“And where we could sit comfortably and hear what the teachers are saying.”