Deadly Christmas in Syria’s Idlib after Russian attack kills five in family – Al Jazeera English

A couple and their three children were killed; a fourth child is in critical condition.
Idlib, Syria ــ A couple and three of their children were killed in Russian air raids targeting a house in a farm near the town of Armenaz in western Idlib on Monday evening, according to the Syrian Civil Defence.
Another child, the sole survivor, was injured.
“We live in this small region of Syria as legitimate targets to satisfy the criminal instincts of both Russia and the Assad regime,” said Walid Ahmed Murad, 32, who lost his sister, her husband, and their children in the Alata farm air raid. He was referring to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Murad told Al Jazeera that his sister Fatima and her husband Anas had fled Aleppo six years ago after the Assad regime took control, only to return to their hometown in Jabal Zawiya in Idlib countryside before moving to the farm three days ago for job opportunities in sheep farming.
“They were very happy to find work that could help them live under their difficult economic conditions,” Murad said. The three children who died — Amina, Khalid, and Mohammed —”were among the kindest children you could meet, and I will miss them forever,” he said. Hamza, his sister’s fourth child and the only one still alive, is in critical condition.
Earlier in the day, another civilian was killed, and five others were injured, including three children, in a missile attack by Syrian regime forces on civilian homes, a rural school, public facilities and agricultural lands in the city of Sarmin in eastern Idlib.
The Syrian Civil Defence, a volunteer emergency rescue group also known as the White Helmets, said that since the beginning of 2023 until December 17, their teams have responded to 1,232 attacks by Syrian regime forces, Russian forces, and their allied militias.
These attacks resulted in the death of 161 people, including 46 children and 23 women, while 681 people were injured, of which 214 were children and 95 were women.
Idlib, the last province controlled by opposition fighters in Syria, is governed by a March 5, 2020 ceasefire agreement between Turkey and Russia. However, this agreement is occasionally violated by Syrian government forces and Russia.
“Today’s massacre is evidence that Russia can never be on the side of peace and a party that brings security to Syrians. The international community must put an end to Russian terrorism that transcends borders,” said Nada al-Rashid, a board member of the Syrian Civil Defence.
Al-Rashid told Al Jazeera that villages in eastern and southern Idlib are systematically targeted by regime forces, undermining stability in the region and imposing a state of terror and fear, leading to displacement waves.
“The continued massacres by the Assad regime and Russia against Syrians increase the danger of living in dozens of cities and towns, imposing a reality of continuous suffering, especially in the harsh winter that ravages camps lacking the basic necessities of life, weak infrastructure, and a clear decline in humanitarian response,” al-Rashid said.
While much of the world marks Christmas and prepares for the New Year, these celebrations are absent for the people of northwest Syria due to continuous bombing and the deteriorating economic situation in an area with a population of 4.5 million, including 1.9 million living in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, according to the latest statistics from United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“Russia celebrates Christmas in its criminal way by killing children and women in Idlib,” said Obadah al-Daher, 21, a displaced civilian from Maarat al-Numan city living in the town of al-Dana town near the Syria-Turkey border.
Al-Daher enters his fourth year today away from his land and home after leaving them at the beginning of 2020 following a military campaign led by the Syrian regime, supported by Russia and Iranian militias.
The campaign resulted in the control of Maarat al-Numan city and its countryside, leading to the displacement of most residents to northern Idlib.
“With the beginning of each year, we hope to return to our homes and for the Assad regime and Russia to be held accountable for the crimes they committed and continue to against us,” al-Daher said.

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