More than 400,000 people have been displaced as a result of the Russian and Syrian regime bombardment of the northwestern Syria province of Idlib over the past three months, UN OCHA said yesterday.
"More than 400,000 people have been displaced since the end of April," said David Swanson of the United Nations humanitarian affairs agency OCHA.
Idlib, the last Syrian area controlled by opposition groups, is home to about three million people, nearly half of them already displaced from other parts of the war-torn country.
Most of those displacements, OCHA said, are from southern Idlib and northern Hama.
"The majority of those fleeing have been displaced within Idlib governorate while a smaller number have moved into northern Aleppo governorate."
"Roughly two-thirds of people displaced are staying outside camps," it said. Many are forced to live in the open air because of overcrowding in camps and reception centres, it added.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 730 civilians have been killed in aerial bombardment and shelling of the region by the Syrian government and its allies since April.
OCHA said that since the end of April it has documented 39 attacks against health facilities or medical workers in the region, in addition to at least 50 schools that have been damaged by the airstrikes and shelling.
Idlib should be protected by a months-old international truce deal reached between Moscow and Ankara but has faced growing bombardment by the regime and Russia.
On Thursday, Syrian regime and Russian strikes killed 12 civilians in the region, the Observatory said, adding: "Another 50 civilians were killed in strikes on Monday alone," noting that most were at "a busy market".
In a statement, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said: "Intentional attacks against civilians are war crimes, and those who have ordered them or carried them out are criminally responsible for their actions."