White Helmets rescuers dig through rubble in Idlib Province in northwest Syria after an Assad regime attack, June 19, 2019
UPDATE 1500 GMT: An Assad regime airstrike has killed a woman and three volunteer rescuers and seriously wounded three other volunteers in Ma’arat al-Nu’man, south of Idlib city.
The victims — Sa’er Bahloul, Mahmoud al-Mustafa, and Abdul Kader Nahtan — were paramedics working for the Violet Organization. Their ambulance was taking the female patient to a nearby hospital.
The organization called on “the international community to take immediate action to ensure the protection of humanitarian workers” in accordance with the 1949 Geneva Convention and UN Resolution 2286.
There are reports of other strikes on southern Idlib, including on this market.
— انس المعراوي Anas ALmaarawi (@anasanas84) June 20, 2019
Assad regime attacks killed another 20 civilians on Wednesday in opposition-controlled Idlib and northern Hama Provinces in northwest Syria.
The regime bombardment, which has shattered a demilitarized zone and defied a ceasefire by its ally Russia last week, wounded another 38 people.
At least 12 were killed in the town of Benin in the Jabal al-Zawiya region of southeast Idlib.
An AFP photographer spoke of bodies ripped apart, with parts of victims more than 100 meters from the strike. Rescue workers pulled other victims from rubble.
#Binin Town in southern #Idlib was the scene of the murder of 12 civilians including three children, while 6 people were injured, all as a result of the targeting by several air raids by regime warplanes on civilian targets. pic.twitter.com/4J8jQcGjo4
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) June 19, 2019
Four other civilians were killed in strikes on southern Idlib, and one died on the edge of Idlib city.
The regime also continued to bomb crops, in an attempt to choke food supplies to the estimated 3 million people — about 20% of Syria’s remaining population — in Idlib and northern Hama Provinces.
The Assad regime periodically bombarded the area despite the demilitarized zone declared last September by Russia and Turkey. It escalated attacks in February, and then — supported by Russian airstrikes and ground personnel — launched an offensive on May 6.
Since late April, about 350 civilians have been killed by Russian and regime bombing and shelling. An estimated 330,000 have fled their homes, with almost 30 medical centers damaged or destroyed.
The offensive quickly took several towns and villages in northwest Hama Province, but was then checked by the rebels and the Islamist bloc Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham. A rebel counter-offensive two weeks ago regained some of the lost territory.
Last Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for a halt to the “inexcusable” bombing and killing of civilians. On Tuesday, UN Secretary General António Guterres called Tuesday on Russia and Turkey to settle the “extremely dangerous” situation where “civilians are paying a horrific price”.
The UN’s humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told the UN Security Council that the world is facing “a humanitarian disaster unfolding before our eyes”.
But Russia has made no statement about the ongoing regime attacks on civilians.