In Syria, Russia Plays With Fire by Restricting Idlib Aid
MIN READJul 13, 2021 | 20:38 GMT
Civilians and humanitarian workers form a human chain near Syria’s Bab al-Hawa border crossing calling for the continuation of U.N.-authorized aid from Turkey.
(OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP via Getty Images)
Russia's push to erode humanitarian conditions in Syria's Idlib province could trigger retaliatory attacks from Turkish forces and local militant groups, raising the risk of another major Russo-Turkish military confrontation and a new refugee surge into Turkey. Since the beginning of the year, Russia has been squeezing humanitarian corridors that lead into the still rebel-held province, which hosts around 2 million internally displaced Syrians. In February 2021, Russian warplanes struck logistics centers associated with the Bab al-Hawa crossing on the Syria-Turkey border, where U.N.-authorized humanitarian aid flows into Idlib. Then, through the spring, Moscow signaled it might block the re-authorization of the crucial crossing, which is the only one still operating under a 2014 U.N. mandate that allows aid through Turkey. On July 9, Russia voted to re-authorize the Bab al-Hawa post, but only under the condition that it remain the sole crossing and would be subject to greater scrutiny....