Syria enters 10th year of war without bombings but immersed in crisis
By Isaac J Martín
Beirut, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- The war entered its 10th year in Syria amid a ceasefire in Idlib, the rebel’s last stronghold that has been targeted by a government offensive, which deteriorated the country’s worst humanitarian crisis.
One million Syrian children were born as refugees as their families fled the war, while another 4.8 million were born in Syria during the nine years of war, the United Nations Children’s Fund confirmed on Sunday.
“The war in Syria marks yet another shameful milestone today,” UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said.
“As the conflict enters its 10th year, millions of children are entering their second decade of life surrounded by war, violence, death and displacement. The need for peace has never been more pressing,” she added.
“Over 9,000 children killed or injured in the conflict, according to verified data, with an average of one child killed every 10 hours since monitoring began,” according to UNICEF.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based NGO with a wide network of collaborators on the ground, said that 384,000 people have been killed since the war began on 15 March 2011 as part of the so-called Arab Spring.
Nearly 960,000 people have been forced out of their homes since 1 December 2019 in northwestern Syria, according to figures issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on 12 March.
The most recent displacement wave was the worst since the beginning of the war, surpassing over 507,000 people who had to flee their homes in the provinces of Deir al-Zur and al-Raqqa between November 2016 and November 2017.
A truce was agreed in Idlib on 6 March after days of tensions between Damascus and Ankara, which backs the rebels.
Turkey suffered the worst military blow when 30 of its soldiers were killed in a Syrian attack on 28 February.
Since then, no missile has been launched by a Syrian or Russian warplane, but the ceasefire has raised scepticism among western countries.
The United Nations’ Security Council received the ceasefire with doubts in the wake of a lack of information about how it was going to work and who was going to supervise it.
Dareen Khalifa, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group working on Syria, said the deal does not address a key point that “has always undermined the Sochi”.
“It leaves the door open to continued Russian-regime attacks under the pretext of combatting designated terrorist groups,” she added.Turkish and Syrian troops have started to patrol a security corridor established along the M4 highway at Idlib as part of a truce agreed by Russia’s President
Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The first joint Russian-Turkish patrol on the M4 highway that links Aleppo and Latakia is comprised of a Russian squad of military police and vehicles, the TASS Russian news agency reported.
The patrol has been tasked with securing the civilians moving along the highway and ensuring violence is not resumed. EFE-EPA