First Published: 2017-10-05

Red Cross says Syria violence worst since Aleppo battle
International Committee of the Red Cross voices alarm at recent reports of hundreds of civilian deaths across several regions of Syria.
Middle East Online

Violence has surged across many supposed 'de-escalation zones' like Idlib, rural Hama, Eastern Ghouta.

GENEVA - War-ravaged Syria is experiencing its worst levels of violence since the battle for Aleppo late last year, the Red Cross said Thursday, warning that the onslaught was causing "intolerable levels of suffering".

The International Committee of the Red Cross voiced alarm at reports of hundreds of civilian deaths across several regions of Syria, and the recent destruction of numerous hospitals and schools.

"For the past two weeks, we have seen an increasingly worrying spike in military operations that correlates with high levels of civilian casualties," head of ICRC's delegation in Syria, Marianne Gasser, said in a statement.

Violence has surged not only in places like Raqa and Deir Ezzor, where brutal battles are underway to oust the Islamic State group, but also in many so called de-escalation areas, like Idlib, rural Hama and Eastern Ghouta.

The de-escalation zones, agreed upon during talks in the Kazakh capital Astana, contributed to a clear reduction in violence in recent months.

But Gasser warned that "the return to violence is once again bringing intolerable levels of suffering to wide areas of the country, while at the same time decreasing access for humanitarian agencies."

"Taken together, these are the worst levels of violence since the battle for Aleppo in 2016," ICRC said.

It pointed out that some camps around Raqa and Deir Ezzor were receiving more than 1,000 civilians every single day, as men, women, children flee the bombings and battles.

"Humanitarian organisations are struggling to provide water, food and basic hygiene to new arrivals," ICRC warned.

And in the past 10 days alone, as many as 10 hospitals had been damaged across Syria, "cutting hundreds of thousands of people from access to even the most basic healthcare," it said.

Robert Mardini, who heads ICRC's Near and Middle East operations, stressed that "military operations must not disregard the fate of civilians and of the vital infrastructure on which their survival depends."

"Winning by any means is not only unlawful, but also unacceptable when it comes at such human cost," he said, urging all sides fighting in Syria to "show restraint, and to abide by the basic tenets of International humanitarian law."

More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011.

 

Iraq PM arrives in Saudi to upgrade ties

UN ends Libya talks with no progress made

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

Ancient Turkish town set to vanish forever under floodwaters

More than half of Austrians vote for anti-immigration party

Washington sees potential Hezbollah threat in the US

Cairo killing sparks security concerns among Copts

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike

Yemen rebel youth minister urges children to join war

Iran's Guards show no intention of curbing activities in Mideast

EU will cut some money for Turkey as ties sour

Iraqi workers return to oil fields retaken from Kurds

Kurdish disarray shows resurgence of Iraq's army

Iranian military chief visits frontline near Syria's Aleppo

Iraq army takes last Kurd-held area of Kirkuk province

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk

Syrian general accused of journalist deaths killed in Deir Ezzor

Raqa liberators ready for civilian handover, on to next battle

Revolutionary Guards say Iranian missile program will continue

Erdogan calls on three major mayors to resign

ICC investigating several war crimes in Mali