At the end of April, the Assad regime and its ally Russia escalated a devastating campaign of aerial bombings against civilians, schools and hospitals in Syria’s Idlib province, amounting to war crimes that are leaving thousands homeless, hundreds killed, and thousands more at risk of death with no access to emergency medical care.
Russia and Assad’s campaign intends to terrorise Idlib’s population of three million into fleeing en masse across the Turkish border. With Ankara unlikely to accommodate another three million more crossing into its territory, Idlib’s population is set to move towards Europe, creating a second wave of refugees seeking sanctuary in the continent in a matter of months.
A British policy of inaction projects an image of weakness and global irrelevance, whilst Russia asserts itself as a dominant global-power with the ability to demolish international order through its use of military force, the committing of atrocities that fuel extremism, and its ability to engineer mass migration into Europe.
The Syrian British Council urges the UK government to re-assert Britain's role as a leading international power:
• to protect Idlib’s civilian population
• to prevent the Russian-Assad takeover of Idlib
• to avert a second refugee exodus
• to prevent the growth of radicalisation
Syrians welcomed the British, French and US forces' joint precision missile strikes on three of the Assad regime's chemical weapons facilities in April 2018. Since then, the regime has not launched a single chemical attack—testimony to Britain’s ability to successfully affect the reality of conflict in Syria if it so wishes. Britain must now act with its international partners once more to prevent catastrophe in Idlib.