Concerned over continued Syrian air strikes, UN Chief calls for investigation

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday expressed his “deep concern” over airstrikes that reportedly targeted a village in northern Idlib last week, killing dozens of civilians, including children. It has been reported that airstrikes on the night of June 7 to 8 targeting the village of Zardana in northern rural Idlib of Syria killed dozens.

A statement released on Sunday through his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, has stated that “He calls for a full investigation into the attacks, especially allegations that there was also a second strike targeting first responders, to establish accountability”.

Mr. Dujarric noted that the Secretary-General recalled that Idlib is part of the de-escalation agreement reached in Astana, and called on its guarantors “to uphold their commitments.”

The Secretary-General also underscored the precarious plight of the estimated 2.3 million people in Idlib governorate, 60 percent of whom are civilians displaced by the conflict from other areas, most recently from Eastern Ghouta. He called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and urged all stakeholders to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Even as the UN Chief expressed grave concerns on the continued strikes, The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations (UOSSM) said a wave of air strikes on rebel-held Idlib on Sunday killed at least 10 children. The strikes hit the al-Nour Women and Children’s hospital,  a statement released by UOSSM said on Monday.

The London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the White Helmets has reported of an airstrike carried out by a Russian warplane on June 7. The Russian Defense Ministry, however, refuted the allegations.

Currently, the Syrian government is fighting rebels in Idlib, which is considered to be the oppositions’ last key stronghold in the country. Idlib houses an estimated two million people, including thousands of internally displaced peoples from other parts of Syria.

In an interview published on Sunday, Syrian President Mr. Bashar al-Assad has claimed the West is fuelling the war that has crippled his country for more than seven years to orchestrate a regime change. He also accused the US, UK and France to have lied about his regime’s use of chemical weapons against its people.

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