Feb 8, 2020 - World

Nearly 600,000 civilians seek refuge to escape Syrian military advances

Syrian refugee children sleeping in the back of a truck
Photo: Rami Al Sayed/AFP via Getty Images

As Syrian troops push into opposition-held towns and villages in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo, roughly 600,000 civilians have evacuated their homes, fleeing to the Turkish border, The Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: This latest emigration could quickly become one of the "worst humanitarian crisis" since the war started in 2011, the Post writes. Already, it is among the biggest single population dislocations throughout the nine-year war, a United Nations spokesperson told the Post.

The state of play: Eight international organizations have said this mass movement has cost more than 500,000 lives, and displaced more than 16 million people.

  • Upward of 200,000 people already fled from their homes last week, and another 300,000 people have been displaced since the Syrian government began its offensive in early December, per the Post.
  • Those fleeing are mainly women and children, the Post notes.
  • An estimated 280,000 additional people are at risk of being forced to evacuate, pushing more people into a pocket of land near the Turkish border.
  • Official Syrian troops are making their way to Idlib now, where another 900,000 live and could join the mass emigration if the soldiers attack, per the Post.

What to watch, per the Post: At a U.N. Security Council emergency session this week to discuss the crisis, the U.S. and its allies recommended an immediate cease-fire. But Western diplomats do not anticipate U.N. action is likely because Russia continues to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

  • "The latest battles serve as a reminder that the Syrian war is far from over, even though its outcome is no longer in doubt," the Post writes.

Go deeper: Syria's Idlib offensive forces civilians to flee, pits Turkey against Russia

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