Published: Wed, September 12, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

UK 'strongly' agrees with President Erdoğan on Idlib, UN envoy says

UK 'strongly' agrees with President Erdoğan on Idlib, UN envoy says

The crisis in Idlib has the potential to "unleash a humanitarian nightmare unlike any seen in the blood-soaked Syrian conflict", UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday, noting that there are close to 1 million children in Idlib, part of the wave of internally displaced Syrians who fled there to escape violence elsewhere. "That's something we're monitoring very closely", OCHA spokesman David Swanson said.

"Our top line message is there needs to be ways of dealing with this problem that don't turn the next few months in Idlib into the worst humanitarian catastrophe, with the biggest loss of life of the 21st century", Lowcock told reporters in Geneva.

Last week, the United Nations warned that such an offensive would likely lead to the "worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century".

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

In Syria, a war monitor and rescue workers reported that government bombardment of rebel-held areas in Syria's northwest has resulted in more casualties.

The UN's World Food Programme, he said had already prepositioned food stocks for some 850,000 people for the first week or so of any large-scale military operation.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that a Syrian government offensive in the country's northern region of Idlib would cause humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, Europe and beyond.

Turkey is appealing for a ceasefire to allow for negotiations on the fate of armed groups in Idlib, but Russian Federation and Iran have rejected that call.

The US has conducted two recent high-profile airstrikes in Syria in response to alleged chemical weapons attacks, once in April 2017 and again in April of this year.

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"They hit with four rockets so we escaped with our flock", he said.

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily quoted local sources in border regions of Darkoush, Salqin and Khirbet al-Joz in Idlib province as reporting that the Turkish border guards exchanged fire with terrorists that tried to escape Idlib towards Turkish territories.

It is home to some three million people - around half of them displaced from other parts of the country, according to the United Nations.

Pierce said the council faces "a choice", between a Syrian regime and Russian "military assault on Idlib in which, as many colleagues have said today, thousands of civilians will die", or "we allow Turkey and opposition groups the support, space and time to separate out the terrorists and tackle them themselves".

At least two hospitals and two centers running rescue operations for wounded people were put out of service by shelling and air strikes, according to the Britain-based Observatory and the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations, which backs medical centers in Syria.

On Friday at a summit in Tehran, the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey could not agree on staving off military action in the province.

Idlib is the last remaining rebel stronghold and could prove to be the final battle for rebel forces in the seven-year-long, brutal Syrian civil war that has already seen so much misery and ruthlessness.

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