File Photo: A displaced Syrian child poses for a photograph in a flooded refugee camp in the Idlib countryside, northwestern Syria, on Oct. 25, 2018. (Xinhua/AFP)
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- UN humanitarian workers are "deeply concerned" about the 3 million people in Idlib and surrounding areas as an increase in fighting in the Syrian northwest.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) remains "deeply concerned by reports of hostilities throughout northwest Syria, including in areas believed to be in or near the demilitarized zone, that are affecting the protection and safety of civilians," chief UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday.
"With 3 million women, children and men in Idlib and surrounding areas at risk, an escalation of hostilities in northwest Syria must be averted at all costs," he told reporters at a regular briefing.
"Failure to do so will bring about humanitarian suffering at a scale not yet seen in the conflict," he said.
There were clashes in several areas between Syrian government forces and non-state armed groups, Dujarric said, adding that there were several civilian casualties, as well as temporary displacement of civilians.
The spokesman explained that there were reports of fighting in southern, rural Aleppo governorate and shelling in northern Aleppo, eastern and southern Idlib, as well as in northern Hama governorate.
"The United Nations continues to urge all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to exercise restraint," he added.