Turkey says attacks on Syria's Idlib must stop, calls for ceasefire

Elias Hubbard
September 14, 2018

The resulting impact on civilians has been dramatic, Laerke said, his concerns echoing those of UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock, who a day earlier had issued a warning about a military escalation in Idlib, after a recent meeting with Syria government officials in the country's capital.

Syria's conflict has killed more than 350,000 people and forced millions more out of their homes, but the United Nations has warned a full-blown attack on Idlib could bring unprecedented suffering. "Idlib is the last so-called "de-escalation zone" in Syria", Guterres said. "It must not be transformed into a blood bath". Idlib is the last redoubt of terrorist groups including Jabhat al-Nusra and some offshoots of Al Qaeda. "But fighting terrorism does not absolve warring parties of their core obligations under worldwide law", he said. Preserve basic services such as hospitals. "Ensure full respect for global humanitarian law".

While U.S. officials have said nothing about nerve agents (which has been a clear American red line), even the use of chlorine on a large scale would likely draw another U.S. punitive strike.

Haley accused Russian Federation and Iran of having little interest in a political solution and called their actions those of "cowards interested in a bloody military conquest". "There is no military solution to the conflict. The solution must be political".

About 30,000 people already live in a Turkish Red Crescent-run camp on the Idlib side of the border.

On Monday, its humanitarian chief made an urgent appeal.

Reuters reports that last week, Russian and Syrian warplanes resumed their bombing campaign in Idlib, the last rebel enclave in Syria, after weeks of quiet, in an apparent prelude to a full-scale offensive.

Russian Federation and Iran want to eliminate what they call "terrorist groups" in the province neighbouring Turkey.

It is not the first time France has warned Assad, Russia or Iran that their aggression could amount to war crimes.

Turkey is a leading opposition supporter which has troops in the country and has erected 12 observation posts around Idlib. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.

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.

The Turkish leader also criticized Assad's bid to legitimize the fight in Idlib as a counter-terrorism operation.

Assad's forces began amassing in the areas of Idlib already under its control and on its southern and eastern flanks. On the contrary, they would create further suffering, alienate and radicalize more Syrians. "In this sense, a military operation in Idlib would only play into the hands of terrorists", he said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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