UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called Tuesday on the warring factions on both sides in the battle for Iblid, Syria, to make protection of civilians of paramount importance.
There has been intensified bombardment by pro-Syrian forces in recent weeks and the escalation of the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by the non-state actors that have affected places such as residential neighborhoods and marketplaces. One report mentioned two IED’s that were detonated in the Qusour neighborhood of Idlib, which resulted in the deaths of 16 civilians while injuring some 70 others.
Civilians have also become a bargaining chip for both sides, Bachelet said. Some 200 families are reported to be held by Islamic State (IS) actors as human shields in the area that is still under their control. Some families and individuals, including approximately 20,000 that escaped from IS, are in areas under control by Kurdish forces and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), but they are not being allowed freedom of movement either.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres previously appealed to those involved when he stated “that a full scale battle in Iblid would unleash a humanitarian nightmare unlike any seen in the blood-soaked Syrian conflict.”