Syrian civilians being killed in mass in Idlib, warns UN

230 over past 6 weeks including 81 children

19 June, 17:04

    ROME - Following a recent intensification of attacks on the Idlib province in northwestern Syria, the UN has warned that any ''counterterrorism'' operations cannot be conducted at the expense of civilian lives.

    UN chief Antonio Guterres has said that a humanitarian disaster is in the making. ''I am deeply concerned about the escalation of the fighting in Idlib and the situation is especially dangerous given the involvement of an increased number of actors. Yet again civilians are paying a horrific price,'' Guterres said. In the past six weeks, 230 civilians have been killed including 69 women and 81 children and many others have been injured. Guterres called on Russia and Turkey Tuesday to "stabilize the situation". The two countries are guarantors of a September 2018 ceasefire. In Idlib, the jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) is operating, Mark Lowcock, the UN's humanitarian chief, noted, but ''attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure need to stop and they need to stop immediately''. The UN noted that even fighting terrorist groups does not exempt countries from having to comply with international law. Guterres said that, as he had previously noted, the Syrian conflict can only be solved politically and not militarily. Meanwhile, civilians are paying the highest price for the failures of the international community to put an end to it, he said.

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