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Surge in civilian casualties continues in Syria’s ‘buffer zone’

On Sunday, July 21st 2019, 11 civilians were killed in airstrikes in Idlib region in Syria. Among those killed was Anas al-Dyab, a citizen journalist and member of the White Helmets.

Civilian casualties from airstrikes in Idlib have been on the rise in recent months as Assad began a campaign of attacks to retake the last opposition strongholds in April 2019.

This violence comes despite a ceasefire deal brokered by Russia and Turkey that came into effect in September 2018 to protect the region.

AOAV has recorded a marked rise in civilian casualties in the last three months across Syria, compared to the three months previous. Between April and June 2019, AOAV recorded 1,930 civilian casualties, compared to 1,186 between January and March 2019 – a 63% increase in civilian deaths and injuries.

In Idlib region alone the escalation is even starker, with a 154% increase in civilian casualties in this period (from 505 between January and March to 1,284 between April and June). Or, an increase of 740% in the first six months in 2019 compared to the last six months of 2018.

At least 57% of civilian casualties recorded so far this year in Syria from explosive violence occurred in Idlib.

While 64% of civilian casualties from explosive violence have been caused by state actors, mostly regime and Russian airstrikes.

In total, 92% of all civilian casualties this year in Syria were caused in populated areas, such as towns and cities.

AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. AOAV encourages all armed actors to stop using explosive weapons with wide-area affects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.