25,000 civilians flee Syria’s region of Idlib to Turkey

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At least 25,000 civilians have fled Syria’s northwestern region of Idlib to Turkey over the past two days, Turkish state media said on Sunday, as Syrian and Russian forces intensified their bombardment of the region.

Reuters news agency report that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that 50,000 people were fleeing from Idlib towards Syria’s border with Turkey. On Friday, a long line of vehicles was seen leaving the opposition-held city of Maarat al Numan, rescuers and residents said.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said on Sunday that the 25,000 fleeing from Idlib were different to the 50,000 figure given by Erdogan. It said the fleeing civilians had come to areas near the Turkish border.

A long line of vehicles was seen on Friday leaving the opposition-held city of Maarat al Numan which has borne the brunt of the attacks, which included airstrikes, they said.

Asharq al-Awsat reports “The exodus is in the thousands. It’s a humanitarian catastrophe, we are seeing people walking in the streets and people waiting near the homes for cars to take them out,” said Osama Ibrahim, a rescue worker from Maarat al Numan.

Airstrikes killed six people overnight in Maarat al Numan and 11 were killed in villages in the area, rescue teams said. Syrian state media said the Syrian army had pushed into several villages southeast of Idlib.

Rebel fighters, who say the Russian and Syrian forces are implementing a scorched earth policy as they advance, said villages seized included Um Jalal in southern Idlib province and Rabea and Harbiya in eastern Idlib. Russia and the Syrian army, which is loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, deny allegations of indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas and say they are fighting al Qaeda-inspired militants.

Via Asharq al-Awsat / Anadolu / Reuters 

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