United Nations chief pushes for protection of civilians in Syria's Idlib

Cheryl Sanders
September 14, 2018

The Russian Defense Ministry said on August 25 that militants were making preparations together with British intelligence services to stage a chemical weapons attack in the Idlib province and blame it on the Syrian government.

Government forces, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, have been massing troops for weeks in preparation for an attack on Idlib province that is the last major rebel stronghold in the country.

At the summit in Tehran, Erdogan, Russia's Vladimir Putin and Iran's Hassan Rouhani agreed in a statement that there could be no military solution to the conflict and it could only end through a negotiated political process.

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

A major military operation in Idlib is expected to pose a humanitarian nightmare because there is no nearby opposition territory left in Syria where people could be evacuated to. President Tayyip Erdogan has warned of a humanitarian disaster and security risks for Turkey.

"All members of the global community must understand their responsibilities as the assault on Idlib looms".

Intermittent artillery fire hit southern districts of Idlib province and adjacent rebel-held areas of Hama province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

About 3.5 million people are crammed into Idlib and the surrounding areas, at least half of whom have fled vanquished opposition areas.

The threat of force comes after Russian Federation and Iran brushed off objections from the USA and Turkey to back a Syrian operation to wrest Idlib from some 70,000 opposition militants.

The forces of President Bashar Assad used the banned chemical weapons in attacks on Douma, near Damascus, on January 22 and February 1, as well as in the northern Idlib province on February 4, the report quoted by Reuters said.

"Some even said that they are preparing to die as Idlib is the last safe place for many of them".

"Representatives of the three guarantor countries will meet again in Geneva with the UN's Secretary-General's special envoy on Syria in the coming days", Erdogan said on Friday. Such a response is especially likely due to the high visibility of the Idlib situation and Washington's multiple warnings about chemical weapons use. "The world will hold them responsible", she added.

"We're deeply concerned about this recent escalation of violence, which has resulted in the displacement of over 30,000 in the area. That's something we're monitoring very closely", OCHA spokesman David Swanson said.

The 7 1/2-year war has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced millions.

Other reports by iNewsToday