On Sunday, October 22, 2023, Syrian regime forces carried out intensified ground attacks targeting multiple civilian facilities in Ariha city in southern rural Idlib governorate, including the building formerly occupied by the Agriculture Directorate, which is now used as a dispensary and medicine storage facility, damaging and partly destroying the building. Another rocket hit the Ahmad Sablou Elementary Education School in the city’s al-Sharqi neighborhood, partly destroying the building and damaging its interior furnishing, while a separate shell hit an area near the Abu Hanifa al-Shaybani Mosque, with no damage recorded. The area is under the control of armed opposition factions and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) notes that through these attacks, Syrian regime forces have again unequivocally violated Security Council resolutions 2139 & 2254, both of which categorically prohibit indiscriminate attacks, as well as violating the rules of international humanitarian law on distinguishing between civilians and fighters. Such attacks aim solely to spread fear and panic among civilians, to drive them from their lands and homes, and to forcibly displace them. It is estimated that 6.5 million people are currently internally displaced in Syria.
The international community must put pressure on the Syrian regime and its allies to support a process of political transition. Pressure should be applied on all parties to compel them to launch such a transition within a period of no more than six months, so that millions of displaced people can safely and stably return to their homes.