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Assad regime bombed north-west Syria over 84 times since earthquake

March 1, 2023 at 8:27 pm

People gather at the site of a bomb blast at a market in Syria, on 19 August 2022 [BAKR ALKASEM/AFP/Getty Images]

The Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad has bombed north-west Syria over 84 times since last month’s earthquakes struck that area of the country, as well as across the border in south-east Turkiye.

Syrian regime forces and affiliated militias bombed the Bab Al-Hawa highway in the north-western province of Idlib yesterday, launching over 30 rockets and artillery shells towards various villages in the rebel-held province. They were part of over 84 attacks on the north-west since the quake, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, which cited local sources.

Despite those attacks reported to have injured at least a woman and her daughter, the transport of goods and aid from across the Turkish border were not severed or disrupted today, allowing convoys to continue flowing into the province.

Those repeated attacks barely a month after the devastating earthquake on 6 February mark a strikingly different tone by the Assad regime in comparison to its constant calls for international assistance and guarantees to distribute aid to all affected areas of Syria. They also went against calls for a ceasefire in the ongoing Syrian civil war.

READ: Between a dictator and a failed UN, post-earthquake Syria resembles its revolution: isolated and abandoned

Damascus had initially demanded that all aid from abroad should be given to the regime for distribution following the quake, but after significant international criticism, proof that regime authorities were stealing the aid and diverting it, and a request by the United Nations, it agreed to the re-opening of two more border crossings into north-west Syria.

Prior to that, though, there was a significant delay in international efforts to relieve the suffering of those in north-west Syria affected by the quake, with aid convoys not being able to enter until at least four days after the disaster. Rescue teams from abroad were also unable or unwilling to enter the areas, leaving the White Helmets and other groups alone in rescue efforts, and heavy equipment and machinery needed for lifting rubble was barely provided.

Despite the death toll in Syria’s rebel-held territories being over five times more than that of regime-held territories, north-west Syria has received only 13 per cent of all aid arriving in the country since the earthquake, according to local aid group, Syria Response Coordinators.