The province of Idlib was beautiful countryside before the Syrian war started. It was a quiet farming area with an overall population of 1,500,000 people. Their primary farming industry was olive trees. The people lived in peace, families worked hard and children went to school.
The governorate of Idlib is known for its olive trees and olive oil, its wheat, cotton and fruit, in particular cherries. Although the community is primarily Muslim, there are also Christians living in the Idlib area. If you have ever used olive oil soap from Syria, it probably came from Idlib.
Idlib contains the Syrian revolution’s various contradictions: the Assad regime and its opposition; as well as the peace movement and armed Islamist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra.
Since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution, Idlib has been one of those areas that the Assad Regime has relentlessly barraged with their constant brand of hatred. The People of Idlib have faced constant terror from Assad’s terror machine.
12/19-12/20/11 – Human rights and opposition activists say at least 200 people were killed by Syrian security forces in the hills and villages of the northwestern province of Idlib 1/21/12 – ISIL kill all members of rival armed groups in Idlib 2/12/12 – over 30 men, women and children were killed after Assad troops barraged the area with shelling. 3/13/12 – Syrian troops committed another massacre in Idlib on Monday, murdering 55 people as President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown shifts into high gear. 10/18/12 – Massacre in Idlib, Syrian death toll exceeds 40 with scores of elderly women and children. 4/29/13 – Regime forces who used helicopter warships and heavy artillery to bomb the town of Saraqib in the Province of Idlib deploying some sort of toxic gas, with two people confirmed dead and many others suffering asphyxia. 9/5/13 – Massacre In Taftnaz due to airstrike on the village. 9/12/13 – Six Red Cross workers and one member of the Red Crescent were abducted by armed men in Syria’s Idlib province. Houla Massacre … The heavy clashes erupted in ReefIdlib after the ISIL kidnapped nine armed rebels and executed them. 9/25/13 – The Free Syrian Army (FSA) yesterday forced members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to withdraw from the village of Hazano in the Rif Idlib area, following violent clashes which led to the killing of the ISIS field commander, Emir Abu Abdullah Al-Libi and 12 of his men. 12/5/12 – Several civilians have been injured in regime mortar shelling on the city’s northern district. 12/8/2013 – At least one civilian has been killed and 14 others, including seven children, injured after foreign-backed militants fired mortar shells into northwestern Syrian city of Idlib 12/9/13 – Halbeit, Idlib: Amna Mohammed Nassan, mother, and Hussein Manna, child kidnapped 13 days ago, were found dead. 12/9/13 – Jisr Al-Shoghour: Explosive barrels shelling by helicopters targeted Najieh town in the morning.
The cities and the countryside are attacked with tanks and/or warplanes daily. They use mortars and rockets which have been used to kill citizens, and those that haven’t been killed have been displaced because their homes have been destroyed. Today in Idlib, there are approximately 800,000 people struggling every day just to stay alive. Many of these people are women and children, who have lost the head of their household. A wife who no longer has a husband. A child who no longer has a dad. This is the sad state now in Idlib.
British surgeon, Paul McMaster of Doctors Without Borders, said, “I’ve worked in many difficult places with MSF – war zones like Sri Lanka, Ivory Coast, and Somalia – but while in those countries it was dangerous on the ground, in Syria the danger always comes from the air. It’s a much more oppressive type of danger, having a helicopter hovering in the sky above you.”
Building An Operating Theater In A Cave
There are also women with children, and other families who have taken refuge in caves in the hills of Idlib. There are hundreds of caves that are wet, often full of mud and they are very dark. There is no safety guaranteed for the people who live in these caves, from others who may be looking to loot – or worse.
The Syrian Activist from the Idlib area says there is not enough humanitarian aid reaching his area to support the displaced families. He said they were setting up small areas in the open farmland away from the towns to protect the people from the shelling. With the winter rolling in, the cold is “biting to the bone which is particularly affecting the elderly and the children.” They are lacking some of the “simplest first response items like tents, blankets, good [nutritious] food, baby milk, and fuel for heat. Physicians do not have medication to treat the wounded or the ill.” Essential medicines such as Augmentin, Ibuprofin, Flagyl (Metronidazole, Diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, Voltaren-XR, Cambia) engyl, and Ceftriaxone Sodium.
Children in Idlib are dying every day from more than the bombing and mortar fire coming from the Assad war machine. They are dying of wounds, starvation, hypothermia, polio and other diseases. The People of Idlib don’t ask for much … they are asking for us to be humane. They need food, medicine and protection.
Child Survives Wounds From Shell Fragment
One of the Activists I spoke with from Idlib told me the daily bombings and barrage of mortar fire is worse than anything you can imagine. She said it never stops – it’s there when you are awake and there in your nightmares. She said, “The terror is constant, worse than Rwanda, or Kosovo, or the Holocaust combined for me” Assad is committing genocide in Idlib and throughout Syria.
The People of Syria are desperate for help from the International Community. According to Haaretz, the death toll in the Syrian war has risen to 125,835 +/- including 6,627 children. And yet those that can help stand by and watch – doing little to actively help the people from Idlib and all the others around Syria.
Waiting one more day is too long. Every convention has been broken in Syria and Assad hides behind rogue nations like Iran and Russia who do not have anyone’s interest in mind except their own. It doesn’t help the Syrian people that the United States and Russia continue to play politics at their expense. It is time to stop playing politics with Syrian lives; and start following International Law and the Geneva Conventions.
Thanks to Media Activist Khaled Mershal for the information and photos in this story.