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Syria army opens corridor for civilians to escape Idlib

Civil defense crews and locals conduct search and rescue works amid debris after airstrikes of Assad Regime's warplanes hit the de-escalation zone of Ariha in Idlib, Syria on 12 July 2019. [Muhammed Said - Anadolu Agency]
Civil defence crews and locals conduct search and rescue works amid debris after air strikes of the Assad Regime hit the de-escalation zone of Ariha in Idlib, Syria on 12 July 2019 [Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency]

Syrian regime forces have opened a “humanitarian corridor” in the war-torn country’s north-western Idlib province in order to let people exit the opposition-held territory and cross over to regime territory, Syrian state news reported today.

Citing a source from the foreign ministry, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that Damascus “announces the opening of a humanitarian corridor” in the village of Soran at the southern edge of opposition-held territory.

The corridor would allegedly allow civilians residing in Idlib to safely leave the southern part of the province. According to the statement, the corridor will evacuate “civilians who want to leave areas controlled by terrorists in northern Hama and the southern countryside of Idlib.”

The seemingly humanitarian gesture on the part of the Syrian army comes after months of it bombarding the province – the final major stronghold of the Syrian opposition – in order to recapture it, killing hundreds, wounding thousands, and destroying numerous villages, hospitals and schools in the process. The ongoing all-out air and land assault began in April and has intensified over recent months, with Russian troops and Iranian forces having recently been deployed to the province to fight alongside the army of the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad.

READ: What’s next for Syria?

Over the past week, the regime and its allies have been making rapid advances in the campaign to retake Idlib, with the latest devastating loss for the Syrian opposition occurring over the weekend and Monday when the city of Khan Sheikhoun and its surrounding hills and checkpoints fell into the regime’s hands.

The announcement of the corridor and the alleged safe exit of civilians from the province resembles previous promises by the regime of reconciliation with opposition fighters, civilians from former opposition-held areas, and refugees from neighbouring countries such as Lebanon who, after returning to their home towns, were once subject to repression and torture under the regime. A similar outcome is also feared for any civilians who may accept the offer to pass through the “humanitarian corridor”.

Those who remain will however be subjected to bombardment by regime forces and their allies, the prospect of moving further north towards the Turkish border and face the possibility of becoming refugees.

READ: Around 124,000 Syrians displaced during Eid

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