Civilians in Syria’s north-western city of Idlib continue to be used ‘as pawns,’ caught in the crossfire between the government and its allies, and attacks by non-state armed groups, the United Nations human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, has warned. ‘They are trapped between the escalation of hostilities and bombardment on the one hand, and, on the other, are forced to live under the extremist rule of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and other extremist fighters who regularly carry out targeted killings, abductions and arbitrary detention.’ Idlib, the last major part of Syria still outside the control of President Bashar al-Assad’s government, is dominated by an alliance led by Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate, Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). The group recently took administrative control of the entire region after overpowering smaller Turkey-backed rebel factions. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, ISIS) also has sleeper cells in Idlib. Idlib and areas of northern Hama and western Aleppo governorates, are part of a “demilitarized buffer zone” but, for over two months, violence has escalated again, including an increase of infighting amongst non-state actors and in the use of improvised explosive devices in areas they control, including by the extremist group, Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham. Since December, the intensified ground-based bombardment of the city has led to numerous civilian casualties and left close to a million people, including hundreds of thousands of displaced people, in an extremely vulnerable situation.