Downward Spiral for Syrian Refugees in Idlib as Fighting Between Turkey, Syria Intensifies

Mark Lowcock, the United Nations’ humanitarian chief, warned the U.N. Security Council that the Russian-back Syrian offensive in the Idlib province has forced thousands to flee into packed areas near the Turkish border. He told the Security Council that the “horrendous conditions” are killing babies and young children. “I am getting daily reports of babies and other young children dying in the cold,” he said. Lowcock also said that almost 900,000 people, more than half of them children, have been displaced since the Syrian offensive began. The United States, United Kingdom, Germany say that three-way talks with Syria, Russia, and Iran, who support Syria, and Turkey, which backs the civilians and rebels, aren’t working. Reported by Fox News (02/29/20). Read more…

More than a million refugees are believed to be trapped between the Turkish border, Syrian forces and Iranian-back militias, awaiting their fate. Syria appears determined to retake the last refuge of opposition in the north, while Turkish forces try to protect them. Reported by The Guardian (02/21/20). Read more…

Fighting in Syria’s north continues. Syrian air defenses on February 19 intercepted “hostile targets” over Syrian airspace in the north. No injuries were reported, and it is unknown whether the Syrians were firing on unmanned aerial vehicles or other aircraft. Reported by i24 News (02/19/20). Read more…

Turkish and Syria forces clashed violently near the town of Tal Tamur. Turkish forces, backed by heavy artillery fire, assaulted Syrian positions near the town. Syrian artillery responded. Russian fighter jets were also spotted over Aleppo, who renewed the bombardment of Turkish forces. Tal Tamur is a major transportation hub. Meanwhile in Turkey, the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told his parliament that talks with Russia had been unsatisfactory and that a new military operation in Syria was “a matter of time.” Reported by i24 News (02/19/20). Read more…

Tensions between Turkey and Syria mounted after another Turkish soldier was killed in a bomb attack. Turkey has suffered sixteen military deaths in northern Syria since intervening. Turkish forces retaliated, destroying 21 regime targets in the area. And Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has threatened to take military action everywhere in Syria is one more Turkish soldier is killed. Erdoğan is scheduled to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin and Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel in March to discuss the situation in Idlib. Reported by The Guardian (02/22/20). Read more…

A week later 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in a Syrian airstrike; thirty-five others were injured. Turkey condemned the strike, calling it a “Nefarious attack against heroic soldiers in Idlib where were there to ensure our national security.” Reported by CNN (02/28/20). Read more…

Turkey struck back, saying it hit 200 Syrian positions “neutralizing” 309 soldiers. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, warned the situation could escalate, tweeting, “There is a risk of sliding into a major open international military confrontation. It is also causing unbearable humanitarian suffering and putting civilians in danger.” Reported by the BBC (02/28/20). Read more…

Turkish drone strikes killed 26 Syrian soldiers the following day. Reported by i24 News (02/29/20). Read more…

Nine members of the Hezbollah terror group were also killed in a Turkish strike. Reported by i24 News (02/29/20). Read more…