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Idlib, Syria Maryam Barakat’s marriage last month remained calm due to the recent escalation of bombings by Syrian and Russian forces at rebel strongholds in Idlib in northwestern Syria. Few people came-those who came were careful not to honk their car horns to celebrate.

Despite the war, 20-year-old Mariam managed to continue her studies and graduated as a midwife this year. While studying midwifery at the university, Mariam met her future husband, 25-year-old Tahataka, who was training as an anesthesiologist.

“One day, I told Taha that I had never seen two people so close. They could not be separated from each other. Taha’s life is Mariam, and Mariam’s life is Taha,” Taha’s father Muhammad Takka Tell Al Jazeera. They got married on July 10.

But their marriage was brutally shortened-it only lasted a week.

Taqa’s family was killed in an airstrike by Syrian government forces in Jabal al-Zawiya village in Idlib province [Mohamad Daboul/Al Jazeera]

On July 18th, they plan to celebrate the Eid al-Adha with their families in the village of Jabal al-Zawiya.

“When we heard the sound, all the men were sitting in front of the house,” Mohamed Taka told Al Jazeera.

“A moment later, there was a big explosion and I was thrown on the ground. I couldn’t move anymore and I was breathing hard. We were screaming for the paramedics.”

Witnesses told Al Jazeera that the family’s house was probably a laser-guided shell fired by the Syrian government forces. Remnants of Russian shells were found on the ground.

Taha was seriously injured in the attack. He is now conscious and is being treated in a hospital on the Turkish border.

Mariam was killed.

“Words can’t describe her,” Mariam’s eldest brother Bashar said. “All I see from her is good.”

Maryam Barakat’s brother Bashar raised his cell phone and showed a photo of a family’s dinner in Idlib [Mohamad Daboul/Al Jazeera]

According to the United Nations, the shelling that killed Mariam is the latest in a series of attacks in the past two months in Idlib, the last bastion controlled by the Syrian rebels.

Although Turkey, which supports the opposition armed groups that control most of the Idlib province, and Russia, the closest ally of the Syrian government, signed a ceasefire agreement in March 2020, the latest violence has occurred.

There are currently about 4 million civilians living in Idlib, most of them women and children. The United Nations estimates that there are 2.8 million displaced people in northwestern Syria—many of whom have taken refuge in heavily overcrowded camps for displaced persons and have nowhere to escape, as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies have gradually Regain most of the territory lost since 2011.

In a statement provided to Al Jazeera, the UN Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, Mark Katz, warned that civilians in Idlib were “bearing the brunt of the serious escalation of the bombing, since the ceasefire agreement was reached in March 2020. The deadliest time”.

He also stated that the people of Idlib were “trapped in a war zone” and called on all parties to the conflict to “protect civilians in accordance with international law.”

In June and July, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported that 66 civilians (including 16 women and 33 children) were killed and hundreds injured as a result of air strikes and shelling.

Jennifer Fenton, spokesperson for the UN Special Envoy for Syria, said that the downgrade and ceasefire agreement are in danger of “collapse”.

“They may be slowly eroded by the almost constant pace of limited violence on the front lines. Worse, they may quickly collapse due to more drastic escalation,” she told Al Jazeera.

She added that the envoy believed that “a new constructive international dialogue on Syria is needed to discuss specific steps”.

Assad’s army wants to control Jabal al-Zawiya because it is close to the strategic M4 highway connecting the government-controlled cities of Aleppo and Latakia south of Idlib.

But Omer Ozkizilcik, a Syrian analyst at the Turkey-based SETA Foundation, said the recent escalation of violence may also be meant to send a message to Turkey.

“Although the Assad regime and Russia have always hoped to maintain a certain degree of escalation in Idlib so as not to lose the ability to launch new military operations, the recent escalation is mainly driven by international developments rather than Syrian dynamics,” he said .

“Russia is trying to use millions of civilians in Idlib as a tool to pressure Turkey to limit its support and cooperation with anti-Russian organizations. [forces]. “

‘Look what happened’

In another violent incident in Idlib, humanitarian workers also paid the price of their lives.

On July 17, the White Helmets (also known as the Syrian Civil Defense) lost their 291st member in Idlib. The paramedic Hammam al-Asi, the 30-year-old father of three children, was killed in an attack.

The White Helmets told Al Jazeera that Syrian government forces and Russia had “deliberately targeted laser-guided Krasnopol shells” at least six times in two months, resulting in the deaths of two volunteers and another 13 People were injured.

Al-Asi’s father Mohamed Said told Al Jazeera that he dreams of becoming a chemistry teacher.

“But because of the revolution, he couldn’t do this. He likes to work in civil defense because it is humanitarian work,” he said.

Kamel Zureik, head of the White Helmets team at the Bzabur Center in southern Idlib, worked with al-Asi and other colleagues to rescue people trapped under the rubble. The house in Sarjah, Idlib, was shelled by the Syrian regime.

The civilians rescued two children before they arrived. The White Helmets rescued another child. When an incoming shell exploded and fatally wounded al-Asi, they were trying to save another child.

They became the target of the so-called double-tap attack, which is a brutal tactic used by the Syrian and Russian armies to target a location, and then for the first time when first responders were on the scene trying to rescue civilians injured or trapped by the attack Attack, hit the same position again.

Zureik said that Al-Asi died on the way to the hospital. He was seriously injured and was unable to drink the water he had pleaded for.

“We said to the international community: look at what is [still] Happened on the ground. Look at how the rescue team became a victim,” Zurek said.

Since then, the attack has continued-at least Nine children were killed Last week, Russian and Syrian government forces launched a series of attacks in Idlib.

At the same time, in the ongoing violence, civilians face severe challenges, such as access to health care and education, reduced job opportunities, and food and water shortages.

Mariam’s father Muhammad said: “I, like everyone in Idlib, worry about my children and try to provide them with safety and food.” “But I don’t think we have a future; where are we going?”

Maryam and Taha’s family said that their love and marriage, when the war raged around them, was a kind of quiet but heroic resistance, courage and hope, facing loss, displacement and pain.

But in Syria, there are countless ways to break the heart.

“In Idlib, all dreams have been bombed. Dreams here are limited, but they will all be destroyed in the end,” said Mariam’s father Mohamed.

Now, Mariam’s father walked to her grave, and her and Taha’s initials were written on the front of her tombstone.

“I hope the whole world knows Mariam’s story, her pure and gentle heart. I know Mariam’s wish is that this will not happen to other civilians, husbands and children,” he said.

“When they broke Maryam’s dream, they also broke all our dreams.”



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