Over 200,000 Civilians Flee Fierce Fighting in Syria
According to the United Nations, a Russian-backed, Syrian-led campaign to retake rebel-held Idlib Province has forcibly displaced at least 235,000 people this month. Despite repeated efforts to forge a cease-fire in the province, Moscow is supporting the Assad regime’s latest assault to retake the territory, which is primarily controlled by an al Qaida-linked group. Rights organizations have accused Syrian forces of indiscriminately bombing civilian areas, a claim Damascus denies. In response, US President Donald Trump recently weighed in via Twitter: “Russia, Syria, and Iran are killing, or on their way to killing, thousands of innocent civilians in Idlib province. Don’t do it!” Syria was thrust into chaos yet again after the White House announced it would withdraw all American troops from the country. Amid a fierce backlash, President Trump reversed course and has been maintaining some 1,000 personnel in the eastern part of the war-torn nation. However, the indecision appears to have opened a window of opportunity for Russia and Syria to intensify their campaign in Idlib, whereas Turkey launched a cross-border incursion in the North in a bid to dislodge US-backed Kurdish fighters, whom Ankara considers an extension of the banned PKK. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that his country cannot cope with another wave of Syrian migration and, in the event, threatened that Europe would be impacted.