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UN calls for immediate de-escalation of violence in greater Idlib, Syria

Rosemary DiCarlo (C, front), United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, briefs the Security Council on the situation in Syria, at the UN headquarters in New York, May 17, 2019. UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock on Friday warned that the recent intensification of hostilities in Syria is unleashing a humanitarian nightmare. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

UNITED NATIONS, May 17 (Xinhua) — The United Nations on Friday called for an immediate de-escalation of violence in greater Idlib, Syria.

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“Let us unite today for the first step – to support an immediate de-escalation of the violence in greater Idlib and work towards a political solution that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo told a Security Council meeting on Syria

Noting that “we are at yet another juncture in the Syrian conflict where civilians are paying the price for a never-ending war,” DiCarlo said that 3 million civilians in Idlib “are at risk.”

She told the meeting that the Russian-Turkish Memorandum of Understanding signed on Sept. 17, 2018 “had significantly reduced violence” in northwest Syria. “However, we now see increasing hostilities on the ground.”

“If the escalation continues and the offensive pushes forward, we risk catastrophic humanitarian fallout and threats to international peace and security,” she said

“Therefore, the UN welcomes the announcement made on May 15 of a Turkish-Russian working group as a means towards re-establishing a cessation of hostilities in northwest Syria. That cooperation is desperately needed,” the UN political affairs chief added

According to DiCarlo, the aerial bombardment in greater Idlib “is alarming, including the use of barrel bombs on populated areas.”

“Airstrikes, barrel bombs and shelling have also reportedly hit multiple health facilities and schools in greater Idlib, several of which had been deconflicted with the UN. There was also reported shelling from the de-escalation zone into areas under the government’s control, including a reported rocket strike on the Neirab camp for Palestine refugees,” said DiCarlo

“We appeal to all parties to cease hostilities, uphold international humanitarian law and protect civilians,” she said.

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