Ruins in the town of Ain al-Fijah, northwest of Damascus

Britain Supporting Social Media Air Strike Warning System

Ruins in the town of Ain al-Fijah, northwest of Damascus

It is estimated the technology has already decreased the number of casualties by more than a quarter in some areas. (Image: Andrei Gryaznov/Tass/PA).

An early warning system that uses social media and air raid sirens to warn civilians in Syria of air strikes is to be supported by British aid.

Middle East minister Alistair Burt said the "innovative" technology, which detects aircraft using remote sensors and machine-learning algorithms, is "proven" to reduce civilian casualties from air strikes.

The system is estimated to have reduced casualties by 27% in areas under heavy bombardment.

The announcement comes amid warnings that almost three million people in Idlib and the surrounding areas are at risk of attacks by the Assad regime and its backers.

Ministers have also pledged to support four health centres and two mobile health clinics in Idlib, as well as psychological support to protect women and children suffering from trauma.

In May, the Ministry of Defence admitted that an RAF air strike had resulted in a civilian death - the first innocent casualty since it started bombing the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria.

The United Nations has a lookout post on the Syrian border.
The United Nations has a lookout post on the Syrian border. (Image: Andrei Gryaznov/Tass/PA).

Through the UK's help, aid will also be used to provide 3,200 dignity kits for women and 5,000 kits for children in the Syrian city.

The support for north-west Syria is part of a wider £10 million new allocation for the UK's response to the Syria crisis, the Department for International Development said.

Mr Burt said: "The UK is extremely concerned about escalating military action by Assad and his backers on almost three million civilians who have sought shelter in Idlib and surrounding areas.

"These are people who have suffered through more than seven years of fighting; many have already been displaced multiple times.

"Today's UK aid package will make sure the most vulnerable can get the medical treatment, food, water and support they so desperately need. But this is not enough.

"That's why we're also funding an innovative early warning system that is proven to reduce civilian casualties from air strikes.

"A humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib is avoidable. The UK supports the urgent diplomatic efforts being made by Turkey and the UN. We call on the Syrian regime and its backers, Russia and Iran, to uphold the ceasefire they have agreed, and to respect international humanitarian law.

"They should also be clear: we will respond appropriately if the Assad regime repeats its appalling use of chemical weapons."

The conflict in Syria has claimed around 400,000 lives over the past eight years, and displaced more than 11 million people.

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