More than 30000 displaced in Syria's Idlib in latest offensive: U.N.

Leroy Wright
September 14, 2018

A full-scale regime assault on Syria's last opposition and rebel-held province of Idlib would sabotage the ongoing political process, Turkey's presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Erdogan.

But the United Nations chief said it is especially important that Iran, Russia and Syria - the guarantor states in the so-called "Astana process" aimed at ending the violence in Syria - "find a way in which it is possible to isolate terrorist groups and ... create a situation in which civilians will not be the price paid to solve the problem in Idlib".

The presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation met in Tehran on Friday but failed to agree on a ceasefire in Idlib.

Russian Federation and Iran insisted that a military offensive in Idlib would be a counter-terrorism operation and that measures would be taken to spare civilians.

On July 5, the Syrian Negotiation Commission submitted a list of 50 candidates to represent the Syrian opposition in the constitutional committee to de Mistura, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Turkey, which is already hosting 3.5 million Syrian refugees, is warning against such an attack, fearing it could force more Syrians over the border.

During his remarks, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia repeated the claim that "Syria has no chemical weapons", and said it would be folly on a humanitarian and political basis for the Assad regime to use chemical weapons, as it would prompt the USA and others to attack inside Syria.

Yesterday, the United Nations warned that a large-scale military operation against Idlib could create "the worst humanitarian catastrophe with the biggest loss of life in the 21st century".

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He acknowledged that there were many rebels and fighters from "terrorist" groups in the province, but stressed that "there are 100 civilians, majority women and children, for every fighter in Idlib".

Turkish security sources on the ground in Idlib told MEE that they had visited areas where members of HTS, other fighters and civilians were all living in the same building and all carrying weapons.

Several Middle East TV channels and a USA news channel have been sent to Jisr al-Shughur in Syria's Idlib Governorate to produce the footage needed for the provocation, a statement by the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation said. The terrorist organization is controlling almost 60% of Idlib, the place where anti-Assad organisations deployed.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned Russian Federation and Iran of "dire consequences" if they continue airstrikes against the last rebel-held area in Syria and said the US would respond to any use of chemical weapons.

"Today, we have started with 20 trucks", he added.

Guterres made the appeal after the Security Council remained divided over Idlib on Tuesday.

"There are in all likelihood dozens of French fighters from both Al-Qaeda and Daesh (Islamic State)" in Idlib, he told French broadcaster BFMTV, adding there were "also many terrorists from other nations who could scatter".

On Tuesday, Russia claimed that Syrian rebels had begun working on film footage that would be presented to the world as the aftermath of an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian army.

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