AT LEAST 134 children have been slaughtered as Bashar al-Assad and Russia continue pounding Idlib in Syria with bombs – targeting kids shopping for food.
US President Donald Trump urged Russia and Syrian government forces to halt their brutal attacks and “indiscriminately killing many innocent civilians. The world is watching this butchery.”
On Sunday, he told both forces to stop bombing Syria's Idlib province, following a Friday Kremlin statement that signalled Moscow would continue to back a month-long Syrian government offensive there.
He said on Twitter: “Hearing word that Russia, Syria and, to a lesser extent, Iran, are bombing the hell out of Idlib Province in Syria, and indiscriminately killing many innocent civilians… What is the purpose, what will it get you? STOP!"
The Times reports that among those killed in the latest carnage were Ahmad and Mostafa, twins aged nine, and their younger brother Ali.
Horrific photos show the children had just reached the end of a debris-filled street, trying to out-run jets, when they were hit.
Lying face down, the twins’ legs are at right angles to their younger brother, who was flung in the opposite direction, and was found lying on his back, with his legs twisted around each other.
One of their cousins, Fouad Sarhan, told The Times: “They were on their way back from the shop.
“They had gone to buy meat and vegetables for their sister for cook for them as their mother and father were outside town.
“It was five past one in the afternoon, and four rockets hit different parts of the town.”
The Times explains that the siblings, and three million other civilians in Idlib, are caught "between three forces".
Jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which has historic ties with al-Qaeda, has mostly taken over Idlib province.
While it's observed a ceasefire in place over the area since last September, it's failed to stop factions that are striking regime positions, off-and-on, the paper explains.
Unicef said: “Children bear no responsibility for this war, yet they suffer its carnage and consequences more than anyone.”
The charity added: “Tens of thousands of children in northwest Syria are at imminent risk of injury, death and displacement because of a significant escalation in fighting.
Nearly 30 hospitals have come under attack – the spike in violence has forced some of Unicef’s healthcare partners to suspend lifesaving operations.
“Violence has intensified over the past few days, especially in villages in northern Hama and southern Idlib.
“This latest escalation follows months of rising violence in the area which has reportedly left at least 134 children dead and more than 125,000 displaced since the start of the year.
“Nearly 30 hospitals have come under attack and the spike in violence has forced some of Unicef’s healthcare partners to suspend their lifesaving operations.”
Volunteers from the Syrian Civil Defence, the group better known as the White Helmets, have been pulling bodies and bloodied survivors from the rubble in the aftermath of recent attacks.
As well as killing dozens of civilians, the recent bombardments by Syrian and Russian forces allied to President Bashar al-Assad have pushed 300,000 people towards Turkey's border, Syrian NGOs have said.
Meanwhile, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria, most of them against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.
On Friday, the Kremlin said it was Turkey's responsibility to stop rebels in Syria's Idlib province from firing on civilian and Russian targets.
'BAD THINGS ARE HAPPENING'
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has long complained to Moscow about the Russian-backed Syrian government strikes against rebels who control the country's northwest.
The offensive in Idlib is the biggest escalation of the war between Assad and rebel opponents of his government since last summer, and has raised fears of a humanitarian crisis as Syrians displaced by the fighting seek shelter at the Turkish border.
When asked on Sunday night before departing on a state visit to Britain what he intended to do about the massacre of civilians in Idlib, Trump told reporters he did not like the situation.
He said: "Bad things are happening."
It is feared there could be a repeat of the 2015 crisis, where hundreds of thousands of Syrian asylum seekers surged to Europe followed by thousands more economic migrants from across the globe who exploited the chaos to sneak into the continent.
One woman, called Heba, told Sky News: "We cannot live under Assad… he's killed so many of us.
"We need to go to Turkey or Europe. If the Turkish won't open the border, we will break it down."
Idlib is the most densely packed areas in Syria, a country where an eight-year civil war has killed hundreds of thousands of people.
What is the Syrian conflict?
The main sides in the Syrian conflict are President Assad's official Syrian army, Isis and Syrian rebel factions.
Some of these rebel groups are backed by al-Qaeda while other groups are supported by the West.
The US is said to have 2,000 troops on the ground offering support to those battling ISIS.
Russia is also there to fight against Isis, however they also attack other anti-Assad rebels, including those backed by the US.
Iran is also a powerful backer of the Assad regime as both are from the Shia branch of Islam as opposed to the Sunni religion of Isis and Saudi Arabia.
In May 2018, Iranian Quds forces based in Syria launched a 20 rockets attack on Israel.
None of the rockets hit any targets and Israeli aircraft responded by extensively hitting both Syrian and Iranian military sites in Syria.
Timeline of major events in Syria
2000: President Assad dies and is succeeded by his son, Bashar al-Assad.
2011: The ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings inspire unrest, leading to a confrontation between the Syrian government and opposition, which develops into civil war.
2011: Arab League votes to suspend Syria, and imposes sanctions.
June 2012: Syria shoots down a Turkey plane, and Turkey alters the rules of engagement, warning that if Syrian troops approach Turkey’s borders, they will be considered a military threat.
September 22, 2014: Obama launches US air campaign against Islamic State in Syria, one month after launching airstrikes in neighbouring Iraq.
September 2015: Russia carries out its first air strikes in Syria.
Late 2015: First American ground troops enter Syria – they recruit, organise and advise thousands of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters, dubbed the Syrian Democratic Forces, and push ISIS out of most of its strongholds.
April 4, 2017: More than 90 people are killed in a suspected nerve gas attack on the town of Sheikhoun, in the rebel-held Idlib province. Moscow and Damascus deny responsibility.
April 5, 2017: Donald Trump said Assad’s government has ‘crossed a lot of lines’ with the suspected chemical attack, and a day later, the US fires 59 cruise missiles into Syria in retaliation – the first direct American assault on the Syrian government.
April 15, 2018: The US, Britain and France launch missile attacks on the Syrian capital Damascus and the central province of Homs in retaliation for the Douma attack.
March 2019: US-backed alliance of Syrian fighters announces ISIS has lost last pocked of territory in Syria it controlled, bringing a formal end to the so-called ‘caliphate’ it proclaimed in 2014.
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