Friday, October 25, 2013

Update on as-Safira and the Southern Aleppo Offensive

by Valerie Szybala

While the regime has still failed to gain ground in as-Safira it has continued with heavy daily bombardment of the city, sparking a massive exodus of civilians. In a press release today, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) reports that around 130,000 civilians have fled from the as-Safira area as a result of this ongoing attack. The disastrous impact of this displacement is compounded by the fact that winter is quickly approaching, these newly displaced people are seeking refuge in towns in northern Syria that are already overwhelmed with other IDPs, and few relief organizations can access the areas.

The outskirts of as-Safira city are home to one of Syria’s most important chemical weapons research, production, and storage facilities. Videos from activists in the area show decimatedand abandoned urban areas, civilians being rescued from collapsed buildings (caution, graphic), and fighting around the nearby chemical weapons facilities.