300,000 Syrians forced to flee toward Turkish border after Idlib escalation - UN

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been forced to take refuge in humanitarian camps near Turkey’s border, after the Russian-backed Syrian regime carried out air strikes against a series of rebel-held towns and villages in Syria's northwest, United Nations food agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

Turkey and Russia signed an agreement to prevent an attack on the Idlib governorate last September, setting the condition that Turkey must clear “extremist” groups from the province.

Since then, one of the groups deemed unacceptable by Moscow, Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), has become the major power in Idlib, the last opposition-controlled province in Syria, leading to a resumption of the conflict.

The Syrian regime and Russia have intensified their assault since April, as Damascus and Moscow sought to capture the province from HTS, a jihadist group that includes fighters from al Qaeda-linked groups.

The intense bombardment in recent months has target civilian infrastructure including hospitals and killed hundreds.

“The latest outbreak in violence in Idlib and north Hama has left dozens of casualties, burned several thousands of acres of crops and farmland, and forced at least 300,000 people to flee their homes,” the World Food Programme spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel said.

The ongoing offensive in Idlib province threatens to the emergence of a new humanitarian crisis as it could drive 2 million refugees into Turkey, the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Panos Moumtzis, told Reuters on Monday.