Violent clashes on Khan Shaykhun as regime forces approach International highway of Damascus – Aleppo

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The civilian death toll is rising every day as the fighting continues in Idleb and northern Hama. More than 500 civilian deaths have been documented by the United Nations over the past three and a half month period alone. Most of these deaths were a result of the relentless campaign of airstrikes by the Syrian Government and its allies.

Every day humanitarians and rescue workers risk their lives to help civilians trapped in this area, including women and children, the sick, the elderly and people with disabilities. They dig people out from under the rubble, rush wounded civilians to hospital, provide medical services and help those fleeing the area.

But no one is safe. On the contrary, those who are risking everything to help some of the most vulnerable people in the world are themselves coming under attack.

Yesterday a series of airstrikes in the Maarat Humeh area in southern Idleb resulted in the death of two more of our humanitarian colleagues, a paramedic and an ambulance driver. Their ambulance was totally destroyed and a rescue worker was also killed.

Wednesdays attack highlights again the horror of whats going on in Idleb and northern Hama, where three million civilians remain trapped and where humanitarians, medical staff and rescue workers continue to pay with their lives in their efforts to help others.

Since the end of April, there have been at least 42 attacks on healthcare reported, affecting 36 health facilities and 7 ambulances. Of these incidents, 11 were in Hama Governorate, 28 in Idleb and 3 in Aleppo Governorate. In total at least 17 health workers and patients have been killed.

I condemn this latest attack – and all attacks on civilians and civilian objects – in the strongest terms. I continue to call on all parties to the conflict to respect and protect medical and humanitarian personnel, their means of transport and equipment and property, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities, in accordance with international humanitarian law and in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2286 which relates specifically to the protection of civilians in armed conflict and to the protection of medical and humanitarian personnel in conflict zones.

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