UN urges truce to bring aid to besieged Syrians

UN plans to reach 700,000 people with relief in the next two months

Syrians reportedly suffering from breathing difficulties following Syrian regime air strikes on the northwestern town of Saraqeb rest at a field hospital in a village on the outskirts of Saraqeb, due to the lack of hospitals in the town, on February 4, 2018.
Five people were treated for "suffocation" after Syrian regime air strikes on the northwestern town of Saraqeb, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, adding that 10 civilians were killed in southern Idlib province. / AFP PHOTO / OMAR HAJ KADOUR

The United Nations is calling for an immediate, month-long cease-fire in Syria in order to deliver critical humanitarian aid and medical care to civilians trapped by fighting in regions across the country.

The UN mission in Syria warned in a statement on Tuesday of "dire consequences" to the compounded humanitarian crises in the country. It identified seven areas requiring urgent humanitarian relief. It says it's blocked from reaching them due to fighting and forces manning the front lines.

Syria's multi-sided war has drawn in armies and insurgents from around the world, aggravating a conflict which began as an uprising against President Bashar Al Assad's rule.

Though Mr Al Assad appears to have survived the insurgency, his forces continue to bomb and besiege opposition pockets around the country.

Meanwhile, Turkish operations against Syrian Kurdish forces and US and Russian-backed operations against ISIL have compounded the suffering of Syrians in the country's north and east.

The UN says it has a plan to reach 700,000 people with relief in the next two months, if it can get the permission to proceed.

A Syrian search-and-rescue group says at least three people have been killed in new airstrikes on the rebel-held province of Idlib, a day after Russian and Syrian government forces battered rebel areas across the country with sweeping air raids.


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The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, says that Tuesday's airstrikes targeted the village of Termala in Idlib, the largest rebel stronghold in Syria. The White Helmets say three people died while the Britain-based Syria Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at five.

Intensified airstrikes starting late on Sunday and continuing through Monday killed at least 28 people in 24 hours, and damaged at least two hospitals in Idlib.

Violence has spiraled since government forces marched into the province in December to retake a key air base they lost control of in 2015. The operation has displaced at least 200,000 people, according to the United Nations. The province is home to about 2.5 million people, with one million of them displaced by fighting in other areas.

Turkey's military says a Turkish soldier was killed in an attack in Syria's Idlib province where the Turkish troops are establishing an observation post.

The military says the soldier was killed late Monday by a mortar-and-rocket attack. Five Turkish soldiers and a civilian military contractor were wounded.

Turkey began deploying forces in an observer role to the rebel-held Idlib in northwestern Syria in October as part of a "de-escalation" agreement with Iran and Russia to stabilize the lines of conflict in the war-torn country.

That deployment is separate from a Turkish military offensive that Ankara launched last month to rout US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters from the northern enclave of Afrin.

Syrian government forces are on the offensive in Idlib, where militants shot down a Russian Su-25 over the weekend.