Over 920000 displaced in Syria in 2018, highest level since conflict began

Moumtzis UN humanitarian coordinator on the Syria crisis attends a news conference in Geneva

Moumtzis UN humanitarian coordinator on the Syria crisis attends a news conference in Geneva

Moumtzis said most of the newly displaced had been forced on the move by escalations in fighting in the former rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta and within the northwestern province of Idlib, which is nearly entirely controlled by various jihadist and hardline rebels.

Moumtzis said that a major battle for Idlib could be "much more complicated and brutal" than fighting for eastern Aleppo and eastern Ghouta - two opposition-held areas that surrendered with evacuations in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said strikes had also hit near a children's hospital, which was forced to shut down.

Late Saturday, fighters from Al-Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate attacked Fuaa and Kafraya, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Six Syrian pro-regime fighters and at least three from HTS were killed in the fighting, which continued on Sunday.

Fuaa and Kafraya are the only two places in Syria now designated by the United Nations as besieged after the government recaptured the Yarmouk Palestinian camp in southern Damascus.

Around 10,000 people, a lot of them Shiite Muslims, are estimated to live in the two villages.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday (Jun 10) called for an investigation of air strikes believed to have been carried out by Russian jets in Syria, killing dozens including children.

It was reported that the airstrikes on the night of June 7 to 8 targeting the village of Zardana in northern rural Idlib of Syria killed dozens, including children.

Referring to Turkey, Russia and Iran, which have held peace talks, he said: "This is a de-escalation area, we hope the Astana guarantors, everybody will do everything to ensure a calming down of situation".

"We worry about 2.5 million people becoming displaced towards Turkey. There is no other location to further move them".

Regarding the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country, Moumtzis said yesterday that 920,000 people were displaced in Syria between January and April, the highest number of any four-month span since the war began.

The situation was "heartbreaking" and complicated by the fact that Idlib has become a haven for belligerents forced out of former strongholds by government forces and their allies, said the United Nations official.

HTS and its allies control around 60 percent of the province, its local rivals hold about a third, and the regime controls about ten percent, according to the Observatory.

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