30,000 flee in Syria as United Nations fears century's 'worst' crisis

Charlene Craig
September 15, 2018

Syrian government forces, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, have been massing troops for weeks around Idlib in preparation for an attack.

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

On Tuesday US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Assad has been well warned against any chemical weapons use in an anticipated assault on Idlib province.

Various so-called "de-escalation zones" were agreed among the three guarantor powers in Syria as a result of multiple rounds of talks, including Idlib.

The attack occurred late Monday in the rural Tulul al-Safa area of the province, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) southeast of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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Since 2015, Idlib has been home to a complex array of anti-regime forces: secular rebels, Islamists, Syrian jihadists with ties to Al-Qaeda - and their foreign counterparts.

A possible attack on Syria's last opposition and rebel-held province of Idlib would sabotage the ongoing political process and cause a serious crisis of confidence, Turkey's presidential spokesman said on Tuesday. After more than seven years of civil war, they face a familiar choice - get away as fast as you can, or stay put and risk death.

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.

As reported by BBC News Turkey, he said Syria is open to dialogue with Kurdish groups, adding, "Our Kurdish brothers are a part of Syria and citizens of this country".

"We have a military presence there and if that military presence is damaged or attacked in any way, it would be considered an attack on Turkey and would therefore receive the necessary retaliation", the source said.

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Its population ballooned as the regime chalked up a series of victories across the country, reaching deals that saw tens of thousands of rebels and civilians bussed into Idlib.

"If Assad, Russia and Iran continue down the path they are on, the consequences will be dire", she said.

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

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.

One source close to the White House told Al-Monitor that the United States administration was resigned to the Syrian offensive and acknowledged there were few options to stop it. "But fighting terrorism does not absolve warring parties of their core obligations under worldwide law", said Guterres.

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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.

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