UN voices concern over escalating tension in NW Syria

By Diyar Guldogan

ANKARA (AA) – The UN Assistant Secretary General on Tuesday voiced concern over the growing tension in northwestern Syria.

"I am deeply worried over the recent escalation of hostilities in northwest Syria, resulting in the new displacement during the past few days of over 30,000 women, children and men and scores of civilian deaths," Panos Moumtzis said in a statement.

Moumtzis, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, said currently there are some 6.2 million internally displaced people inside Syria.

"A further escalation of military operations in Idlib and surrounding areas will not only endanger civilian lives in this densely populated area, but will severely impact humanitarian partners’ ability to deliver life-saving assistance," he said.

The UN official also condemned the "horrific" attacks in civilian-populated areas and called on all parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians.

"The immediate safety and security of humanitarian and medical personnel must also be guaranteed. There must be a peaceful solution and it must be reached now," he said.

At least 29 civilians have been killed and dozens injured in airstrikes and attacks by regime forces and Russian warplanes in Idlib and Hama since the beginning of this month, according to White Helmets, a local civil defense agency.

The Syrian regime recently announced plans to launch a major military offensive in Idlib, which has long been controlled by various armed opposition groups.

The UN warned last week that such an offensive would lead to the "worst humanitarian catastrophe in the 21st century".

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