Intensified fighting in Syria's NW could force 2 million Syrians to flee to Turkey, warns UN
Iran Press TV
Mon Jun 10, 2019 03:05PM
The United Nations has warned that up to two million Syrians could flee to Turkey if fighting further escalates in the northwestern parts of the Arab country.
"Our fear is if this continues, and if the numbers continue soaring, and if the conflict intensifies, that we could see really hundreds of thousands, a million, two, heading towards the borders with Turkey," said Panos Moumtzis, the UN regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, on Monday.
The flashpoint region is shared between the southern parts of the northwestern province of Idlib, which is mostly militant-held, and adjacent parts of west-central province of Hama and western coastal province of Latakia.
During recent weeks, the region has been the scene of intense fighting between different terrorist outfits and Syrian army troops who are trying to liberate the areas and its trapped civilians from the clutches of terrorists.
Turkey says it currently hosts about four million Syrian refugees.
In December last year, the UN refugee agency said that up to 250,000 Syrian refugees could return to Syria as most of the once-militant-held regions were now in control of government troops.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Moumtzis stressed that aid funds were running dangerously low, adding that the world body had appealed for $3.3 billion to cover humanitarian work within the Arab country this year. He said that despite generous pledges, the UN has so far collected only $500 million, leaving the aid effort surviving "hand-to-mouth."
Turkey and Russia, Syria's close ally, brokered a deal in September 2018 to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib that would be evacuated of all heavy weapons and militants. Militants have, however, persisted in their stay in the zone and refused to leave the area.
Furthermore, terror outfits have repeatedly violated the agreement by launching numerous attacks on outposts held by the Syrian army and Russian forces.
Iran, Russia, and Turkey, the three guarantor states of a ceasefire regime in Syria, have time and again expressed their determination to continue their fight against terrorism in the Arab country.
Together with Iranian advisory military assistance, the Russian counter-terrorism airstrikes, which began in September 2015, have helped the Syrian military retake almost the entire country from militants.
Idlib is militants' last major stronghold.
If Idlib is retaken by Syrian forces, it would effectively mark a defeat for militants in the Arab country.
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