Feb 8, 2020 - World

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

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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Family room without a family, in Idlib. Photo: Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The worst humanitarian crisis of Syria’s brutal civil war is colliding today with what could be the war’s most dangerous geopolitical showdown, after at least 29 Turkish troops were killed in an airstrike.

The big picture: The fighting is taking place in Idlib in northwest Syria, where a ferocious Syrian and Russian offensive has displaced 1 million civilians and infuriated Turkey, which borders the region.

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Driving the news: Turkey launched an offensive against Syrian government troops after at least 36 of its soldiers were killed in an airstrike last Thursday. It shot down two Syrian aircraft and claims to have killed hundreds of Syrian forces.

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Erdoğan opens Turkey's border allowing refugees to travel to Europe

Refugees wait near to enter Europe near Turkey's border with Greece. Photo: Gokhan Balci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced he opened Turkey's border with Europe on Saturday — turning a longstanding threat into a reality, AP reports.

The state of play: The move appears to be an attempt to pressure European countries to support Erdoğan's military efforts in Idlib as operations from Turkish, Russian and Syrian forces escalate. Erdoğan has called on European nations to support the 3.6 million displaced Syrian refugees in Turkey, The New York Times reports.

Go deeperArrowFeb 29, 2020 - World