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Syria: 21-year-old graduate posts prayer just before being killed by shelling in Idlib

Joud Shreet left a prayer on Facebook just moments before she was killed, as Syrian and Russian forces threaten ceasefire agreement
Joud Shreet was among five civilians killed over 24 hours by Syrian government and Russian shelling in Idlib province (Screengrab/social media)

Five civilians have been killed in less than 24 hours as Syrian government forces and Russian warplanes targeted the rebel-held Idlib province, according to the Syrian Civil Defence and a UK-based activist group.

Four people were killed on Tuesday evening following shelling in Idlib city and the outskirts of northwest Syrian province. A woman was also killed after a medical facility was targeted on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday, Russian warplanes targeted the outskirts of Maryam camp, near the city of Maarat Misrin, north of Idlib, with six air raids wounding six people from one family.

russia targets camp idlib
Russian warplanes target the outskirts of Maryam camp, near the city of Maarat Misrin, north of Idlib (MEE/Ali Haj Suleiman)

The 21-year-old university student Joud Yaser Shreet was killed later that day, after pro-government shelling hit a residential neighbourhood. 

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Idlib University official Noureddine Ghafir and his 12-year-old son Majd were also killed following artillery fire near a swimming pool on the outskirts of the rebel-held province, according to the UK-based group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. A fourth person, Abu Ahmed Sabbagh, was also killed. 

On Wednesday morning, a woman was killed and her child was seriously injured as President Bashar al-Assad's forces and their Russian allies targeted an emergency medical facility in the town of Mara’an, south of Idlib, with laser-guided shells.

south idlib shelling medical point
A photographer takes a picture, following the shelling of a medical centre in the town of Mara’an, south of Idlib (MEE/Ali Haj Suleiman)

“The shells fell in my family's house on the second floor above the medical point, killing my mother and wounding my little brother,” Khaled Khatib told Middle East Eye. 

“The medical point is out of service, and it is the only point located in Jabal Al-Zawiya in the south and serves approximately 35 villages.”

Mousa Zidane, media coordinator of the Syrian Civil Defence (also known as the White Helmets) confirmed to MEE that in addition to the five deaths, 11 civilians were wounded in separate areas of Idlib and the Aleppo countryside over 24 hours, including six children and three women. 

“The White Helmets responded to all the attacks and was able to rescue an entire family from under the rubble after the targeting of Maryam camp near the town of Maarat Misrin,” Zidane said, adding that search and rescue operations were still ongoing. 

“The intense bombardment by the regime forces and Russia is once again a dangerous escalation that threatens the lives of civilians in northwestern Syria and warns of a new wave of displacement to the northern camps, which are overcrowded amid harsh living conditions.”

Tributes for recent graduate 

Tributes have poured in on social media following the death of student Shreet. 

Just minutes before being killed, she posted an image of Idlib city to her Facebook page, accompanied by a prayer. She asked God for light from every moment of darkness and ease from every difficulty, as well as contentment in her heart. 

Her friend Hanady Alshikh posted an emotional tribute on Shreet’s Facebook page, which read: “The friend, colleague, and comrade left us, and she was martyred. May God have mercy on you, my love. We were preparing to discuss the graduation project next week.

“I don't know how we will meet without you... May God have mercy on you and give us patience and the patience of your family in your separation.” 

Mark Cutts, the United Nations deputy regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, shared a tweet about Shreet's death, stating: “She'd just graduated and ran a kindergarten. This daily slaughter of innocent civilians cannot be allowed to continue.”

Several social media users noted that her brother Anas was killed in 2016 after reportedly facing torture in a Syrian government prison.

The shelling overnight was the first such deadly bombing on the city in the country's northwest in around 10 months, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The escalation in hostilities threatens a 2020 ceasefire agreement between Turkey and Russia.

It follows a continuation last week of shelling by government forces in Daraa in the south, as Syrian army units supported by Iran-backed militias targeted the rebel enclave. The city has been under siege by government forces for more than two months, forcing many of its inhabitants to flee.

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