By Mehmet Burak Karacaoglu and Esref Musa

IDLIB, Syria

Syrians who were displaced by attacks by the Bashar Assad regime and its supporters, and took shelter in refugee camps, consider the closure of the Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing “mass murder.”

Idlib falls within a de-escalation zone forged under an agreement between Turkey and Russia. The area has been the subject of multiple cease-fire understandings, which have frequently been violated by the regime and its allies.​​​​​​​

Fear gripped millions of displaced civilians after Russia’s move to block aid entering the country with the ongoing civil war from the Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing — just across the Cilvegozu border gate in Hatay province in Turkey — in line with a UN Security Council resolution.

Turki Sultan, who was displaced by the regime and its supporters with attacks in his town in Idlib in 2019, told Anadolu Agency that he took shelter in the Mahatta refugee camp in Idlib on the Turkish border.

He said the Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing is the “lifeblood” of civilians living in the region.

“If Russia manages to provide humanitarian aid through the Assad regime, it will be like giving a death sentence to 5 million people living in Idlib,” he said. “Russia displaced us by bombing us. It killed and destroyed our homes. As if that wasn’t enough, it set eyes on the humanitarian aid that came to us from Bab al-Hawa. They are playing with the lives of children and the elderly.”

Husain Ali Berjus, another refugee, said his house was destroyed in attacks by the regime and its supporter, Russia, in 2019.

“They bombed us. They destroyed our homes. They displaced us. As it was not enough, they covet the medicine and food that comes to us. Certainly, Russia shouldn’t be able to do that,” he said.

Abdulsattar Humaydi from Idlib’s Saraqib district said he was displaced by the attacks from Iran, Assad, and Russia, and his family was able to survive thanks to the help from Bab al-Hawa.

“Russia’s closing the Bab al-Hawa gate to aid means organizing a mass murder of the displaced,” he said.

Noting that his purchasing power is low because he works as a daily worker, Humaydi said thanks to the aid, his children receive education and benefit from health services.

Muhammad Ali, also displaced from Saraqib, underlined that humanitarian aid from the Bab al-Hawa gate should continue to allow the displaced to survive.

He said the distribution of UN humanitarian aid through the regime at Russia’s request means “rewarding the massacres” committed by the Assad regime.

Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since early 2011 when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN estimates.

*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev

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