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Russian airstrikes destroy main water plant in Syria’s Maarat al-Numan as refugees suffer ‘tragic’ conditions Open in fullscreen

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Russian airstrikes destroy main water plant in Syria’s Maarat al-Numan as refugees suffer ‘tragic’ conditions

Maarat al-Numan has been subjected to frequent regime and Russian airstrikes since April [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 July, 2019

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Russian airstrikes destroyed the main water plant in Maarat al-Numan on Sunday as recently displaced refugees in the opposition-held town are unable to meet their basic needs.

Russian airstrikes destroyed the main water plant in Maarat al-Numan on Sunday as recently displaced refugees in the opposition-held town continue to suffer from a lack of essential facilities.

Russian airstrikes on Sunday destroyed the main water pumping and storage station in the city of Maarat al-Numan in Syria’s opposition-held Idlib province, the Syrian Step News Agency reported.

The news agency said that Russian planes had targeted the pumping and storage station with five missiles early on Sunday, putting it completely out of service.

Step News’s correspondent also said that regime and Russian planes had bombed and shelled several villages in southern Idlib province, leading to an unknown number of casualties.

Dozens of people were killed on Saturday in fierce Russian and regime airstrikes on Khan Shaykhoun and other towns in Idlib province.

The Maarat al-Numan water pumping station was previously targeted by regime airstrikes on 5 July, causing partial damage. It provides clean water to Maarat al-Numan and surrounding villages.

Regime and Russian airstrikes against vital civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, have been a regular feature of the Syrian conflict, which broke out in 2011 following brutal suppression of protests by the Assad regime.

The destruction of the water plant is likely to make life even more difficult for Maarat al-Numan’s 80,000 residents, who include refugees recently displaced from other parts of Syria.

More than 330,000 people have been displaced as a result of the regime’s latest assault on rebel-held areas of northwestern Syria, which began in late April.

The New Arab’s correspondent in the area reported that 5,000 refugees, mostly from eastern Hama province, which is on the frontlines between the regime and the opposition, have moved to Maarat al-Numan since April, taking shelter in already overcrowded refugee camps.

The New Arab’s correspondent described conditions in the 13 camps around Maarat al-Numan as "tragic", with tents so worn out that they could no longer be used, no sanitation facilities, and severe shortages of food and medicine, as well as a lack of educational facilities for children.

Disease has spread throughout the camps due to a lack of sanitation, clean water, and medicine.

Ubeid al Saqqar, a refugee from the village of Hawarta in western Hama province who fled to the Wafaa camp on the outskirts of Maarat al-Numan with his wife and four children told The New Arab: "We haven’t seen any humanitarian agency visit the camp or give us even a small amount of aid.

"We have a severe shortage of food and drinking water and everything is expensive. The tents are in really bad condition and don’t protect us from the heat of summer or from winter. We’re buying water from far away places for really high prices," he added.

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