Idlib assault would lead to risks for Europe - Erdogan

15 September, 2018, 15:56 | Author: Donnie King
  • Turkish minister warns of mass migration from Idlib

Last week, the presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation failed to agree on a ceasefire that would forestall a Syrian government offensive in the rebel-held Idlib province. President Tayyip Erdogan has warned of a humanitarian disaster and security risks for Turkey.

The UN's new humanitarian chief warned Monday that a large-scale military operation against the rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib could create "the worst humanitarian catastrophe" of this century.

US national security adviser John Bolton said the United States, Britain and France agreed Syria would be met with a "much stronger response" compared with previous air strikes if its government conducted another chemical weapon attack, The Guardian reported. He also stressed the need to prevent civilian casualties.

The UN Security Council met earlier to hear a briefing from Russian Federation, which insisted that the planned assault on Idlib is a "counterterrorism operation" and that measures will be taken to spare civilians.

A second rebel commander said: "They are getting new shipments of munitions - they don't need more than munitions".

Idlib is one of the four "de-escalation zones" in Syria agreed under a deal reached previous year by Iran, Russia and Turkey in Kazakhstan's capital Astana.

As Russia continues to bombard the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib from the skies, in support of the country's ruling government's campaign to retake territory, Washington is warning of retaliatory strikes.




Senior Turkish officials, who wished to remain anonymous, last week told MEE that Ankara feared that a new offensive in Idlib would disrupt its plans to send refugees now living in Turkey back to northwest Syria by the end of the year.

Erdogan last week met with his Russian and Iranian counterparts in Tehran as Russia continued bolstering forces in the eastern Mediterranean. More than 30,000 civilians have already been displaced since fresh bombing raids began last week.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is appealing to all parties directly and indirectly involved in Syria - especially Iran, Russia, and Turkey - to protect civilians and avoid a "bloodbath" in the last major rebel-held stronghold in Idlib.

"It is a very major preoccupation for us", he said.

He said that the today's meeting of the guarantor nations' representatives also focused on the situation in the Idlib governorate.

Russia's United Nations ambassador said "terrorists" can't be allowed to hold hundreds of thousands of people as "human shields" in Idlib where he said "tens of thousands" of fighters linked to al-Qaida, the Islamic State and other extremist groups are concentrated. They are believed to be holding them in the Safaa area.

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