Erdogan calls for Idlib ceasefire at Tehran summit

07 September, 2018, 16:29 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Syrian government forces attack rebel-held city

The UN has warned that an all-out offensive in Idlib will lead to death and destruction even greater than that seen previously in Syria, including the displacement of another 800,000 civilians - most of whom are likely to seek refuge in nearby Turkey, which already hosts 3.5 million war refugees.

As Putin and Erdogan were arriving in Tehran, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air strikes were targeting positions belonging to rebel groups in the northern Hama and southern Idlib provinces.

Seized from government forces in 2015, Idlib and adjacent areas form the final major chunk of Syrian territory are still under opposition control, home to some three million people, with around half of them displaced from other parts of the country, according to the United Nations.

But Russia's President Vladimir Putin said Moscow opposed a truce, and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani said Syria must regain control over all its territory.

Jeffrey said the new United States approach is more suspicious of Russian Federation amid "growing skepticism" that Moscow is either willing or capable of assisting the U.S. with its goal of pushing "all Iranian-commanded forces from the entirety of Syria".

The UN says almost three million people live in Idlib and global concern has risen in recent days over a threatened regime assault to oust rebels and jihadists from the province and surrounding areas.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in Tehran on September 7, 2018.

Idlib is one of the so-called "de-escalation" zones set up as a result of talks by Russia, Turkey and Iran a year ago as Damascus regained control of more of the country.


Other sanctions have targeted the Assad regime's fuel and shipping procurement networks. Turkey, which backed opposition forces against Syrian President Bashar Assad, fears a flood of refugees fleeing a military offensive and destabilizing areas it now holds in Syria.

Maas said Germany was also concerned about massive bloodshed and "looming humanitarian catastrophe" inside Idlib.

There was periodic cooperation between the United States and Russian Federation against the same jihadist groups operating in Idlib until mid-2017.

Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said the leaders would focus on the situation in Idlib, and the expected chemical provocation in the area.

Just hours later, the UN Security Council will also meet at Washington's request, also to discuss Idlib.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that barrels of chlorine and munitions had been delivered to Idlib, while members of the White Helmets, which had been involved in the staged chemical weapons incident in the Syrian town of Douma in April, were getting their cameras ready.

USA defence chief Jim Mattis later dismissed reports that fighters inside Idlib may hold such weapons.

Since 2011, Assad's regime has repeatedly been accused of using chemical weapons, including this year in its battle to retake the former rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.

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