UN warns of ‘catastrophe’, calls for armed groups to leave the Golan Heights separating Syrian and Israeli forces
The United Nations has warned of a looming “catastrophe” in southern Syria. By Saturday, the number of southern Syrians fleeing from massive Russian and Assad regime airstrikes, raised to 220,000.
Nearly 70,000 are encamped on Israel’s northern Golan border.
The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously renewed for six months its mission to observe the ceasefire in the Golan Heights, calling for armed groups to leave the area separating Syrian and Israeli forces.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN’s high Commissioner for human rights, said in a statement on Friday that there was a “grave risk that intensified fighting will see many civilians trapped”, condemning “how civilians in Syria continue to be used as pawns by the various parties”.
Al-Hussein said his office received reports that “in the last few days, civilians at some government checkpoints in the southern-eastern and western parts of Deraa have only been allowed through to Assad-held areas in Daraa city and Sweida governorate for a fee.”
“To add to the bleak situation facing civilians, there are also reports that ISIS terrorists in control of the Yarmouk Basic area in the western part of Daraa governorate are not allowing civilians to leave the areas under their control.”
With Moscow’s help, Assad’s army has battered the south with air strikes, rocket fire and crude barrel bombs. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said that nearly 100 civilians have been killed.
Thursday night, during a special IDF operation, Israel transferred humanitarian aid to Syrians fleeing hostilities who are living in tent camps throughout the Syrian Golan Heights.
As part of the operation, which took place over several hours, 300 tents were transferred along with 13 tons of food, 15 tons of baby food, three pallets of medical equipment and medicine, and 30 tons of clothing and footwear.
The IDF has provided life-saving humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians through Operation “Good Neighbor” for several years, as a good-will gesture, while maintaining a policy of non-intervention in the Syrian conflict.
“The IDF is closely monitoring the events transpiring in southern Syrian and is prepared for a wide variety of scenarios, including additional humanitarian aid distribution to Syrians fleeing hostilities”, the IDF Spokesman’s Unit said in a statement.