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350,000 fled Syria’s Idlib since December – UN

About 350,000 people have been displaced by a renewed Russian and allied offensive in the opposition-controlled Syrian province of Idlib since early December.

 The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Thursday that the displaced persons, most of them women and children, have sought shelter in border areas near Turkey.

In its latest situation report, OCHA said the humanitarian crisis in Idlib continued to worsen as a result of the “escalating” hostilities.

Russian warplanes and Syrian artillery have pounded towns and villages in recent weeks. The bombardments are part of a renewed assault backed by pro-Iranian militias that aim at clearing the Syria opposition.

Russian and Syrian forces resumed their aerial bombardment of civilian districts in Idlib two days after a ceasefire agreed between Turkey and Russia formally took effect on Sunday.

Earlier this month, UN officials said the humanitarian crisis had worsened with thousands of civilians on the run in Idlib province in addition to nearly 400,000 people who fled earlier bouts of fighting to the safety of camps near the Turkish border.

Reuters reports UN sources as saying that the latest Idlib offensive has brought the Russian-backed military campaign closer to heavily populated parts of the province, where nearly 3 million people are trapped.

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