Turkey says attacks on Syria's Idlib must stop, calls for ceasefire

Turkey says attacks on Syria's Idlib must stop, calls for ceasefire

Turkey is reinforcing its military posts inside Syria's rebel-held province of Idlib, Turkish and Syrian rebels sources say, seeking to deter a government offensive which it says would unleash a humanitarian disaster on its border.

Idlib is the last refuge for the Syrian opposition and home to close to 3 million people, including 1.4 million displaced Syrians hailing from provinces now controlled by the government and close to 1 million children.

Western governments have said Damascus might again resort to the use of chemical weapons while Moscow has accused rebels of staging one as a pretext for Western intervention.

Delegations from the three countries will be in Geneva on Tuesday to meet the UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.

The Security Council was meeting just days after hearing United Nations peace envoy Staffan de Mistura warn of a looming catastrophe from the military offensive in Idlib, where some three million people live.

The German Defense Ministry is reportedly in talks with the USA on potentially taking an active role in airstrikes in the event that Syria's President Bashar al Assad uses chemical weapons in Idlib province.

Idlib residents hope Turkey's presence in the province might prevent a major assault by regime forces and Ankara's relationship with Iran and Russian Federation could lead to a new ceasefire.

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Syrian troops, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, have massed around the northwestern province ahead of an expected onslaught against the largest rebel-held zone left in the country.

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

"We are saying the situation in Idlib should be settled most preferably in a peaceful way. The consequences of inaction are enormous", he said. S, on the other hand, gave a warning to Syria not to use any kind of chemical weapon.

Iran shares the United Nations' concern about a potential humanitarian catastrophe in Syria's Idlib province and will seek to avert it, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, special assistant to Iran's foreign minister, told reporters on Tuesday.

"Establishing and making this committee - which is on the agenda thanks to the Astana process - will bring a new dynamism to the political process", he said.

"We're not talking about a military offensive", the Russian ambassador said.

Haley warned that "the consequences will be dire" if the assault goes ahead and there are mass casualties. "The world will hold them responsible", she told the Security Council. This includes hundreds of thousands who were displaced from other parts of Syria - many forcibly exiled after refusing to return to living under the Assad regime as it reclaimed the country from rebel groups.

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