Militants loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad have executed an elderly woman who refused to leave her house when the militias demanded its confiscation in the recently-captured town of Khan Sheikhoun.
The woman, named Maryam Al-Shalat, was executed by the regime militias on Sunday, as reported by activists who have circulated a photo of her on social media.
The incident took place around two weeks after regime forces, along with their Russian allies and affiliated militias, took control of Khan Sheikhoun in the south of Idlib province in the north-west of the war-torn country.
The execution resembles a previous such killing in 2012, a year after the conflict and protests began, in which regime security forces dragged an elderly woman onto the street in the city of Hama, hit her on the head, and shot her dead along with two of her children just hours after a visit by the United Nations (UN).
The conquest of the key town of Khan Sheikhoun was a significant strategic victory for the Assad regime and comes amid a month of rapid military advances by regime forces further into the embattled Idlib province, made possible in particular by the direct involvement of Russian ground troops and Iranian forces fighting alongside the army.
Last month Russian and Iranian troops were confirmed to have been deployed following the Assad regime’s failure to drive out opposition forces from Idlib and Hama since April this year, when the regime began an all-out land assault combined with an air assault from Russia in order to retake the last major opposition-held stronghold in the country’s north-west.
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Maryam Al-Shalat’s execution by regime militia forces is one of over 900 who have been killed in the offensive on Idlib and around 560,000 who have been killed in the eight-year long civil war. Meanwhile, over 600,000 people in Idlib have been displaced since April and pushed further north towards the Turkish border, creating fears of another wave of refugees in the region.
While no group or militia in the Syrian conflict has been entirely clear of committing atrocities, the Assad regime has been the most dominant actor in its killing of Syrian civilians, destruction of hospitals and schools, and overall human rights violations.