Tens of thousands flee Syrian regime offensive in Aleppo

Tens of thousands flee Syrian regime offensive in Aleppo
3 min read
20 October, 2015
Around 35,000 people have been displaced from the outskirts of Aleppo, as they flee the Syrian regime's offensive, while Russian airstrikes kill dozens, including civilians, in the Latakia province.
More than 250,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict began in March 2011 [Getty]

Tens of thousands of Syrians have fled their homes south of the second city Aleppo since a government offensive there began last week, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA] said on Tuesday.

"Around 35,000 people are reported to have been displaced from Hader and Zerbeh on the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo city, following government offensives over last few days," OCHA spokeswoman Vanessa Huguenin said.

     Aid agencies are growing more and more concerned for families living outdoors as the weather is getting colder especially overnight
- Vanessa Huguenin [OCHA]

She said many of the displaced were living with host families and in informal settlements further west in the province.

"People urgently need food and basic household and shelter items," she said.

"In addition, aid agencies are growing more and more concerned for families living outdoors as the weather is getting colder especially overnight."

Syrian government forces began a new offensive south of Aleppo city on October 17, backed by Russian airstrikes.

They are fighting to take villages and towns that lie near the strategic Aleppo-Damascus highway.

Russian airstrikes kill dozens in northwest Syria

  

Meanwhile, at least 45 people have been killed in a wave of Russian airstrikes on the Jabal al-Akrad region, in the north of the regime stronghold of Latakia province.

"Among them were civilians but we do not have a precise number," Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights [SOHR] said.

A rebel commander and the families of rebel fighters were among the dead, Rahman said, adding that dozens of people were wounded and the toll was expected to rise because of the number of those with serious wounds.

Opposition forces including moderate and Islamist fighters have positions in the Jabal al-Akrad region, which is in the far north of coastal Latakia.

The province is a regime stronghold and home to the ancestral village of President Bashar al-Assad.

It has been a key target of Russian airstrikes since Moscow began an air campaign in Syria on September 30.

Russia says its strikes target the Islamic State group and other "terrorists", but rebels and their backers say Moscow has focused more on moderate and Islamist opposition forces than extremists.

Russian airstrikes in Syria have killed 370 people since they began, around a third of them civilians, SOHR said.

The monitoring group revealed that 243 rebel fighters had been killed, among them 52 from the Islamic State group, along with 127 civilians. Among the civilians were 36 children and 34 women, according to Observatory director Rahman.

More than 250,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011.

Some four million Syrians have become refugees and around seven million have been internally displaced, according to the UN.