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Turkey | Syria: Flash Update Developments in Northwestern Governorates (as of 01 December 2015)

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  • Since 24th November, the number and severity of airstrikes by GoS forces and allies have increased on areas of northwest Syria, including in the governorates of Idlib, Latakia and Aleppo, causing civilian casualties, major damage to civil infrastructure, and triggering new displacements of population.

  • Airstrikes have hit major supply routes into Syria, interrupting humanitarian programmes and blocking commerce to populated areas through key border crossings of Bab al Hawa and Bab al Salam.

  • On 27 and 28 November airstrikes hit two bakeries serving approximately 100,000 people in Saraqeb and Ma’arat Numan in Idleb governorate.

Airstrikes hit bakeries, schools, medical facilities, and major supply routes

On 26 November airstrikes by GoS and allied forces hit civilian structures near Bab al Salam and Bab al Hawa border crossings. A transportation depot on the Azaz – Bab al Salam ring road was hit early in the evening, resulting in the incineration of nine trucks along with three casualties and a number of injured who were taken to Turkish hospitals in Kilis. Several hours earlier another airstrike hit targets near the Bab al Hawa border crossing, including Sarmada town and the Qah area a few kilometres from IDP camps that house some of the largest communities of displaced in the border area. Because of the bombs, a number of international and local humanitarian organizations have suspended operations in northwest Syria, and implemented ‘hibernation’ protocols for local staff, with some staff able to evacuate to Turkey.

Over the past week, airstrikes have continued on key locations in the governorates Idleb and Aleppo, hitting civilian infrastructure and supply routes commonly used by humanitarian actors as well as commercial traders. On 26 November, a grain silo with a capacity to supply many mills and bakeries in Idleb Governorate was destroyed by airstrikes in Tasbabet town. Meanwhile, an NGO -supported bakery serving 50,000 people per day in Saraqeb town was struck by airstrikes on 27 November. The same airstrike also hit a large-capacity mill adjacent to the oven, resulting in a number of fires and damage to the bakery and mill. On the following day, air strikes put out of operation another bakery that supplies more than 50,000 people a day, as well as a water pumping station in Ma’aret Numan town in southern Idleb. In November eight bakeries were hit by airstrikes affecting the production of bread for more than 100,000 people. . On 29 November another air strike hit a public market in Ariha town, killing more than 30 people and wounding over 100.

The transportation hub on the Bab al Salam – Azaz road was hit a second time on 28 November, injuring several drivers with shrapnel and then a third time on 29 November, resulting in the destruction of 11 vehicles and the deaths of nine personnel working in the area. According to the Bab al-Salam border management, more than 60 people were transferred to Turkish hospitals following the attacks. Two schools were hit on 24 and 25 November in the town of Jisr Shaghour in Idleb governorate. Both schools have sustained moderate damage and classes have been discontinued for more than 1,000 students.

Humanitarian Organizations Downscale or Suspend Operations in Idleb and Aleppo Since early October, more than 20 health facilities have been struck and severely damaged by aerial bombs dropped by GoS and allied forces, resulting also in a number of casualties among health workers and patients.

Because of the bombs, humanitarian workers continue to face great risk in their support to field hospitals and clinics in opposition- and ISIL - held areas. Many humanitarian organizations have had to downscale their operations, shift their modus operandi to support mobile rather than fixed facilities, or discontinue operations entirely. Many transportation contractors serving both humanitarian activities and the commercial sector through the Bab al Hawa and Bab al Salam crossings have also halted movement on supply routes due to fear of targeting by GoS or allied aircraft.

Approximately 493,000 people live in the areas affected by the recent surge in airstrikes – in Jisr Shaghour, Ariha, Ma’raat Numan, Badama, Azaz and Dana sub-districts. This area also accommodates thousands of IDPs displaced from Aleppo, Idleb and Hama.

Several international and local humanitarian organizations had already suspended operations at the end of October, even before these recent airstrikes, after a Government - led offensive supported by airstrikes made advances in the southern and western Aleppo countryside. Programming and operations have been further complicated by large-scale displacement of populations in both governorates. More than 100,000 people are reported to have been displaced in this region of northwest Syria since early October as a result of the escalation in fighting and the increase in the number and severity of airstrikes.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.