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ICRC: Spike in Syria Military Operations Resulting in Huge Loss of Life

This photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets shows civil defense workers searching in the rubble after airstrikes hit in Khan Sheikhoun, in the northern province of Idlib, Syria, Sept, 24, 2017.

The International Committee of the Red Cross reports an alarming spike in military operations in parts of Syria in the past two weeks is causing high levels of civilian casualties and the destruction of vital civilian infrastructure.

The ICRC says the recent escalation of fighting in Syria is resulting in the worst and most intense levels of violence since the battle for Eastern Aleppo in 2016.

The Red Cross says the violence that has been going on in Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, and western rural Aleppo, now has spread to many of the de-escalation areas. It says so-called safe zones, such as Idlib, rural Hama, and Eastern Ghouta are embroiled in high intensity fighting.

ICRC spokeswoman, Iolanda Jaquemet tells VOA this is taking a heavy toll on civilians and civilian infrastructure.

“There are dire effects on civilians. And, of course, international humanitarian law, the Geneva Conventions and other bodies of law — they clearly state that civilians have to be spared; that civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, schools or water systems have to be spared during the conflict," said Jaquemet."What we have seen during the last two weeks, though, is that there have been hundreds of civilian casualties, that at least 10 hospitals have been damaged.”

Deir Ezzor Syria
Deir Ezzor Syria

Jaquemet says people are being injured and are dying in a variety of situations, including airstrikes, shelling and improvised explosive devices. In a particularly gruesome incident, she says a family of 13 who fled Deir Ezzor lost 10 of its members to airstrikes and explosive devices along the way.

The situation in Syria has been relatively calm in recent months, giving rise to hopes for a peaceful solution to this seven-year long war. The ICRC says the recent surge in fighting is bringing intolerable levels of suffering to many parts of the country, putting prospects for peace into doubt.