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United Nations: More than 948K displaced in Syria in last 12 weeks

Civilians walk amid debris of a Russian military fighter jet in the eastern Idlib countryside in Syria on February 3, 2018. File Photo by Abdalla Saad/EPA-EFE
Civilians walk amid debris of a Russian military fighter jet in the eastern Idlib countryside in Syria on February 3, 2018. File Photo by Abdalla Saad/EPA-EFE

Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The United Nations said Wednesday the Syrian military offensive against rebel forces in the northwest portion of the country, including Idlib, has displaced nearly 1 million civilians in the last three months.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said a total of 948,000 have been displaced since Dec. 1, including almost 180,000 families and 560,000 children. A surge in recent fighting has led 14 European foreign ministers to call on the regimes in Syria and Russia to stop the hostilities.

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The OCHA said in a report last week the humanitarian crisis has reached "horrifying levels" and exceeds "worst-case planning figures."

"Indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas continue to drive people from their homes and destroy vital services, including hospitals, markets, and schools," the report said. "Cold weather has made the situation worse.

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"The frontlines in northwest Syria are rapidly moving closer to densely populated areas, with bombardments increasingly affecting [Internally Displaced Persons] sites and their vicinity."

The humanitarian organization Syria Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, has documented many of the dead and displaced, saying Wednesday it rescued 95 people, including 21 children, during a recent shelling that killed more than two dozen people and forced civilians from their schools and homes.

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Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Director Sergey Naryshkin accused the White Helmets Wednesday of helping Western intelligence circulate lies and wage a media war against Syria.

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"Two years ago, information spread around the world which claimed the responsibility of the Syrian Arab Army for the use of chemical weapons in Douma City and that was a pre-planned misleading by this organization and it was backed by Western states," Naryshkin said.

"After that, we were able in cooperation with Syrian journalists through their investigations to prove that these allegations and hypotheses regarding the use of chemical weapons are a complete fabrication by the [White Helmets] which is backed by the West."

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