More than 30,000 people have been displaced within rebel-held northwest Syria as a result of bombardment by Syrian government and allied forces which began last week, a United Nations official said on Monday.
“As of 9 Sept. 30,542 people have been displaced from northwest Syria, moving to different areas across Idlib,” David Swanson, spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said.
Damascus, backed by allies Russia and Iran, has been preparing a major assault to recover Idlib and adjacent areas of northwest Syria from rebels.
The area is Syria’s last major stronghold of active opposition to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
About 3 million people live in the opposition-held area, which comprises most of Idlib province and adjacent small parts of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.
Swanson said that since Friday mortar and rocket attacks had increased, especially in the northern Hama countryside and southern Idlib rural areas.
He said 47 percent of those displaced have moved to camps, 29 percent are staying with families, 14 percent have settled in informal camps and 10 percent are in rented accommodation.
Last week, Leaders of Syria’s allies Turkey, Iran and Russia met to discuss the way forward for the last ISIS stronghold ending in a deadlock.
They agree don’t further bombardment was not the best option, but that it would be considered if all other efforts to oust the anti-government forces failed.
The UN had earlier warned that many more people risked displacement in the event of more military action in the area.