The war in Syria is not over and Idlib knows it. Located in the north of the country and on the border with Turkey, it is the only city that in practice is still outside the control of the Syrian government and its allies and is run by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra), described as by the UN as a terrorist organization, and other armed rebel factions. There, Russian and Syrian planes continue to drop bombs and the beginning and end of the year have been especially hard.
In one of those bombings on November 11, five members of Ali Al-Khader’s family died. “My brother, his wife and their two small children, along with my seven-year-old son, died. I hit my head and as a result I have hearing problems,” he tells elDiario.es through an audio recording.RELATED
Ali is one of many internally displaced people from Syria. He came to Idlib from the Aleppo countryside and now lives on a farm near Ma’aret Misrin in the Idlib countryside. Some 4.2 million people live in the area and half have arrived displaced from other cities, according to the Syrian Response Coordinators Organization.
Ali says that 16 people in the family were sitting when they heard the noise of the plane. Suddenly “I saw fire and the blow passed, the stones were above my head. I shouted at my brother, but he did not answer me. He was dead behind me. Also the others: they were all dead”.
“They say they attacked terrorists. Are my son and my brother’s children terrorists?” lamented the man, showing photographs of the deceased minors. Sources in the area assure that the place attacked was a civil installation and not a military installation or an arms depot.
In the early hours of 2022, as the world, including Moscow, celebrated the New Year, Russian and Syrian warplanes fired missiles at residential neighborhoods in the city of Idlib, specifically in the Jisr al-Shughur area, witnesses have reported. and NGOs. Some countries such as the United States and France have also held Syria and Russia responsible for attacks on civilian targets.
Both the city and the countryside are frequently subjected to aerial and artillery bombardment. Despite the ceasefire agreement reached between Russia and Turkey in March 2020, the climb continues. The first attack of 2022 killed a woman and two children and left a dozen injured, according to information published by the White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
One of the shells hit the Signar water plant on January 2, which supplies water to thousands of people in Idlib. A worker at the facility, Mohammad Jamal Diban, tells elDiario.es that some 400,000 civilians had been left without drinking water, which caused people to once again resort to tanker trucks to get supplies. “We need the support of international organizations to repair the station and restore it to what it was before.”
A senior UN official confirmed that the water plant was “severely damaged.” “The country is already facing a water crisis and the continued destruction of civilian infrastructure will only cause more suffering. The attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure must stop,” said Mark Cutts, deputy humanitarian coordinator for Syria.
“Reliable sources say Russian warplanes have bombed the area around the Signar water plant, putting it out of action due to damage to pipes,” reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
In the last days of 2021, warplanes intensified their bombardment in the rebel region of northwestern Syria. Among the places attacked are several poultry farms, which were totally destroyed, in addition to the water station and food factories, a spokesman for the White Helmets, Firas Al-Khalifa, tells elDiario.es.
Al-Khalifa maintains that these types of attacks are specifically directed against civilians, as they aim to attack their food security, destabilize economically and keep the region “in a state of no war and no peace” at the same time.
According to Syrian Network for Human Rights, 1,271 people died in the country during 2021, including 299 children and 134 women. More than a hundred died as a result of torture, indicates the same source. The organization maintains that the largest proportion of deaths was at the hands of Syrian government forces. For its part, the NGO blames the Russian forces for the deaths of 65 civilians, including 32 children and 7 women.
Despite the decrease in the number of recorded human rights violations compared to previous years, extrajudicial executions in Syria remain among the highest in the world. The director of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Fadel Abdel Ghani, tells elDiario.es: “Compare the figures of victims this year with previous years it can be misleading because there are other angles to consider, the most notable of which is that these numbers are cumulative. The tragedy is increasing, despite the decrease in deaths. Massive human rights violations by the regime and Russia continue to occur. The kidnappings, murders, torture and forced disappearances continue and are crimes against humanity.”
Abdel Ghani believes that Bashar al-Assad and his government must be held accountable to restore stability to Syria and that there can be no stability in the country as long as the leader and his “savage” security apparatus – backed by Russia and Iran – continue to act against the population. “We still have a long period of suffering left,” he says, lamenting the international community’s lack of interest in the current situation in Syria.