Turkey calls on global community to avert Idlib assault

Leroy Wright
September 12, 2018

Violence in northwest Syria has displaced more than 30,000 people this month alone, the United Nations said Monday, warning that a looming assault could create the century's "worst humanitarian catastrophe".

The Observatory said Saturday that some 2,000 people were already on the move from areas being bombed, heading deeper into Idlib province.

Idlib and its surrounding area are home to some 3 million people, including more than a million civilians displaced from other parts of Syria.

BEIRUT/GENEVA - More than 30,000 people have so far fled their homes in northwest Syria since Syrian government and allied forces resumed air and ground bombardments there last week, the United Nations agency coordinating relief efforts said on Monday.

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by allies Russian Federation and Iran, has been preparing a large-scale military onslaught to capture the northwest province of Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in the country hosting some three million people, and adjacent areas.

Swanson said that since Friday's summit, mortar and rocket attacks had increased, especially in the northern Hama countryside and southern Idlib rural areas.

The Russian strikes and regime barrel bombing on south and southeastern areas of the province killed at least four civilians including two children, the Britain-based monitor said.

"One of the major results of the Teheran summit is that its participants unanimously recognized the efficiency and topicality of the Astana format", he said.

Turkey's president on Monday urged the global community to be aware of its responsibilities in Syria as an assault on Idlib looms.

We want to tell you: if you sell Idlib or other opposition-held areas, we're going to buy Reyhanli from you.

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Syria has been ravaged since 2011 by a complex civil war, implicating many foreign powers, that has claimed more than 350,000 lives to date.

The first attack came in April 2017, when US President Donald Trump ordered US Navy warships in the Mediterranean to fire a total of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase that the Pentagon had claimed was used to carry put a deadly chemical attack against the people of Khan Shaykhun, in the country's northwestern province of Idlib.

Damascus, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, has been preparing a major assault to recover Idlib and adjacent areas of northwest Syria from rebels.

Idlib's most powerful armed faction is the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) jihadist group, which Ankara officially designated a "terrorist" group last month.

The raids prompted hundreds of families to take to the roads, as dozens of cars and trucks tried to ferry civilians away from the bombardment.

A previous chemical weapons attack in Douma, which killed at least 70 people, resulted in retaliatory strikes from American, British and French forces stationed in the Mediterranean.

De Mistura met informally with members of the three delegations on Monday.

Turkey, which has recently sent reinforcements to its borders to prevent the influx of more refugees, now hosts more than three million Syrians.

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