Man-made caves have become a common safe haven for Syrian families in many parts of Idleb’s countryside amid heavy Russian shelling in the northern province.
Families are forced to spend most of their time in these hand-dug structures. A radio connects them to opposition forces, who provide citizens with information on the air traffic around the clock, revealing themselves only when they are certain the aircraft have left the sky.
Residents in these caves in Mount az-Zawiya, in Idleb’s countryside, suffer from severe living conditions, as families are faced with no electricity, no water, and poor hygiene. Abu Mohammed al-Idlebi, one of the inhabitants of the caves, said families resorted to the caves as a way to protect children from the bombing, pointing out that Russian aircraft almost never leave the sky over the region.
"The atmosphere of the cave is annoying, where vision is compromised due to the absence of light, and it is difficult to transport household items because of the limited available space. Russia is waging a war in every sense of the word on the Syrian people. People who do not own land could not dig caves, only to end up in the streets and displacement camps. Syrians have suffered through this situation for more than four years now," Idlebi said.
The southern countryside of Idleb has witnessed heavy shelling since the launch of regime military operations in the northern countryside of Hama, in an attempt to progress towards Idleb city under Russian air cover.
The Syrian conflict entered a new phase after Russia began attacking Syrian cities and towns a month ago. Moscow says the intervention aims at eradicating Islamic State locations, while the US, other Western states, and Syrian opposition forces have claimed more than 90 percent of locations targeted by Russian aircrafts are civilian with no link to the extremist group.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer