The last large populated area outside the control of the Assad regime, around three million civilians live in the Idlib region. But Russian and regime forces look to be gearing up for an onslaught to take it back, with little consideration of the human cost.
As pace builds towards an advance on the rebel-held enclave, it’s thought that an assault on Idlib could displace around 700,000 people and cause a repeat of the horrifying scenes of eastern Aleppo city, eastern Ghouta and Daraa.
The vast majority of people in the Idib region are civilians. A large-scale offensive risks displacing hundreds of thousands and creating a humanitarian catastrophe. It’s a situation that has been described as “the perfect storm” by the UN. A volunteer with civil defence group the White Helmets and an Idlib resident recently stated that “if an offensive takes place, it will be a bloodbath”.
We are on brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. We don’t know how the situation in Idlib will unfold, but we do know that civilians must be allowed to leave safely. Humanitarian aid must be allowed in. And we must be prepared. To raise our voices, to shine a light, and to support life-saving aid and services where they’re needed most.
If the time comes, we’ll desperately need your help to support our partners on the ground.
Header image: a member of the Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, walks through the wreckage of their centre, destroyed by regime bombing. Photograph: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images