A man digs a cave in the Syrian village of Kafr Ain in the south of rebel-held Idlib province Saturday. AFP / OMAR HAJ KADOUR
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The grotto in northwestern Syria has already saved his children's lives once. Fearing more air attacks, Abdel-Monem Sheikh Jassem is expanding the makeshift bomb shelter in case they need to take refuge there again.Residents of Idlib province and surrounding areas have been bracing themselves for a Russian-backed government offensive on the country's largest remaining rebel-held zone.Some 3 million people live in the area and the United Nations has warned that a full-scale regime assault could spark the century's worst humanitarian catastrophe.Sat outside the craggy cave opening in his hometown of Kafr Ain, in Idlib's south, Jassem explains how he is trying to keep his family safe.my children'Two years ago, Jassem and his family rushed to the very same cave to hide from an incoming government helicopter.The regime's use of air raids across Syria has sent residents fleeing to basements or caves, even forcing hospitals, community centers and schools to move underground.
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