Fresh fighting in Idlib triggers 'total panic': UN
Renewed fighting in northwest Syria after a brief ceasefire has triggered "total panic", a top UN official said Thursday (August 8th).
Close to three million people live in the Idlib region, which is the last major opposition stronghold in Syria and is largely controlled by Tahrir al-Sham.
The UN has raised specific alarm about the risks of a massive regime offensive because Idlib has for several years served as a reception zone for those escaping regime advances elsewhere in the country, AFP reported.
"These people do not know where to go," said UN humanitarian chief for Syria Panos Moumtzis, stressing that there is no other opposition stronghold where people can flee in the event of a full regime assault.
"A total panic has resumed again," he said, following a meeting in Geneva that included envoys from Russia, a regime ally which also has been conducting airstrikes in Idlib.
"It is like playing with fire at the moment and we worry about it coming out of control," Moumtzis said.
According to the UN, an estimated 400,000 people have been displaced within Idlib over the last 100 days.
Contingencies are in place for up to 900,000 displacements, Moumtzis said, but there are no plans for managing an offensive that would affect Idlib's entire population.
"What is the... plan for the three million people there?" he said. "That is a question we have not got an answer for".