Russian bombs halt relief work in northern Syria, as hundreds of thousands of civilians flee and ISIS advances

McClatchy reports: In the days since Turkey downed a Russian warplane that flew into its airspace, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a bombing campaign that’s destroyed bakeries and relief convoys in northern Syria, cutting the flow of food to more than half a million civilians.

The result has been a complete halt in relief operations by major humanitarian aid groups, all of which operate out of Turkey. It’s also brought the region to the brink of further catastrophe as hundreds of thousands of residents are caught in the crossfire and are unable to flee their homes.

Since Russia began bombing Sept. 30, “there’s been a huge wave of internally displaced,” said Karl Schembri, regional coordinator for the Norwegian Refugee Council. The situation has grown worse since the shoot-down Nov. 24. “People cannot move at all, and there is nowhere for them to flee to,” he told McClatchy.

All of Syria’s neighbors, including Turkey, have now shut their borders to fleeing refugees, and informal camps for displaced persons just inside the Syrian border are reported to be packed.

The stepped-up Russian bombing campaign has had another effect, rebels and aid workers say, allowing the Islamic State to move into areas that it previously had not controlled close to the Turkish border. [Continue reading…]

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