Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Russian Federation for humanitarian corridors in Idlib, Lavrov says

UN chief pushes for protection of civilians in Syria's Idlib Turkey arms rebels as Idlib prepares for Syrian onslaught
Ellis Copeland | 15 September, 2018, 23:12

Turkey's foreign minister says his country is still working for a peaceful solution for Syria's rebel-held province of Idlib, adding that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would hold talks with Russia's Vladimir Putin on Monday.

Russia-backed forces of the Syrian regime have massed around the Idlib province in recent weeks, sparking fears of an imminent air and ground attack to retake the last major opposition bastion.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan met with the leaders of Iran and Russian Federation last week in Tehran, but failed to win a ceasefire pledge.

"We had come (to Idlib) without anything", he said.

Senior officials from Russia, Iran and Turkey met with UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura in Geneva Tuesday.

A full-scale military offensive on Idlib risks creating the worst humanitarian tragedy of the 21st century, United Nations aid agencies have said, amid concerns that a severe funding shortfall threatens the most vulnerable victims of the conflict.

The UN said in a report in August that, "any military escalation, would lead to the displacement of around 900,000 civilians over the coming six months, including 700,000 people within Idlib alone".

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The opposition accuses Russian Federation and its allies of attacking hospitals and civil defense centers to force rebels to surrender in a repeat of earlier, large-scale military offensives in areas such as Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta. Turkey however backs opposition fighters seeking the ouster of the Syrian leader, and has said a large-scale offensive against the rebels could trigger a mass exodus towards its border.

"Turkey is open to cooperation with everyone on efforts to fight terror groups in Syria", Turkey's state-run news agency Anadolu Agency cited Cavusoglu as saying. He said the solution must be political. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

Idlib is the last remaining stronghold of various jihadist groups that once sought to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad, with support from the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other regional powers.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey had also contacted foreign ministers of several countries and was in touch with "all actors in Syria". His comments were broadcast live on Turkish television.

Photo taken on September 11, 2018 shows a United Nationa (UN)'s Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria's Idlib province at the UN headquarters in NY.

"Naturally we have been given information by Britain, and we have no reason to question that information", Maas said, urging "everyone to contribute to clearing this up", including by sharing information about the two Russian suspects London has named in the affair.

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