Diplomats from Iran, Russia and Turkey meet UN envoy on Syria

Hannah Rogers
September 15, 2018

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is appealing to all parties directly and indirectly involved in Syria - especially Iran, Russia, and Turkey - to protect civilians and avoid a "bloodbath" in the last major rebel-held stronghold in Idlib.

She also said that "Russia has the power to stop the catastrophe looming in Idlib".

The Britain-based war monitor did not immediately report any casualties from the bombardment which came after shelling and air strikes killed at least 15 civilians in the rebel zone since September 4.

"We are extremely alarmed at the situation, because of the number of people and the vulnerability of the people", he said, warning that "civilians are severely at risk".

The population of Idlib has swelled over the years of conflict with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Syrians.

Regime forces have been fighting Daesh on Sweida's arid plains since terrorists carried out a wave of attacks in the mainly Druze province on July 25, killing 250 people, according to the Observatory.

The attack occurred late on Monday in the rural Tulul Al-Safa area of the province, about 100 km southeast of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Damascus, backed by allies Russian Federation and Iran, has been preparing a major assault to recover Idlib and adjacent areas of northwest Syria from rebels.

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The UN's World Food Program has already prepared stocks of food for some 850,000 displaced people, he said.

"This is what we should be discussing today, Madam President, but I think it has been absent from the briefing we received from Russian Federation just now", Pierce added.

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.

On Monday, on the main highway running across the province, men on motorbikes headed north with their children on foot, herding dozens of sheep.

With extensive Turkish support, efforts have been underway to organize FSA groups north of Aleppo into a unified force known as the "National Army" numbering some 30,000 fighters. Earlier this week, Trump took to Twitter to lecture not only Assad but also the Russian and Iranian governments about their actions in the region.

"In a complex place like Idlib, traditional counter-terrorism methods would not yield the desired results".

"There might be another refugee flow but we plan not to open our borders and settle the refugees in the camps prepared for them on the Syrian side of the border", Volkan Bozkir, the head of the Turkish parliament's foreign affairs committee and a former government minister, told the Cumhuriyet newspaper.

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