UN Rights Chief urges International Action as Violence Soars in Syria

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called Saturday for urgent international action after a week of soaring violence and bloodshed, mostly caused by airstrikes, in the opposition-held Eastern Ghouta and Idlib regions of Syria.

"The past week has been one of the bloodiest periods of the entire conflict, with wave after wave of deadly airstrikes leading to civilian casualties in areas of Eastern Ghouta and Idlib," Zeid said. "The no-holds-barred nature of this assault is evidenced by reports that at least nine medical facilities, six of them in Idlib and three in Eastern Ghouta, were hit by airstrikes."

In all, Zeid said, his staff had received reports of airstrikes damaging no fewer than nine separate medical facilities ranging from a key hospital that was still functioning in Idlib, to a mental health care facility and a medical clinic in Kafr Batna in Eastern Ghouta.

In all, the UN Human Rights Office has received reports indicating that at least 277 civilians have been killed between 4 and 9 February with a further 812 civilians injured, taking the total number of civilian casualties during the first week of February to around 1074.

Other parts of Syria continue to be affected by past or current fighting. In the Afrin district in the north-west controlled by Kurdish forces, a Turkish-led offensive launched on 20 January is placing large numbers of civilians at risk. There have been reports of civilians including children being killed and injured as a result of airstrikes and ground-based strikes.

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