Major Idlib raid could spark worst catastrophe of 21st century


A full-scale regime assault on Syria's last opposition and rebel-held province of Idlib would sabotage the ongoing political process, Turkey's presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Erdogan.

In the newspaper article, Erdogan called on the global community to take action, and warned that "the entire world stands to pay the price" otherwise.

Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, warned of the "worst humanitarian catastrophe" of the century as more than 30,000 people have been internally displaced in the Syrian province of Idlib ahead of a planned offensive by the country's government.

According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, there is "no doubt" that Islamic militants with ties to Western intelligence agencies that are hostile to Assad's regime are planning a false-flag chemical weapons attack in Idlib province, the scene of fierce fighting between forces loyal to the Syrian regime and terrorist groups opposed to it. Besides, there is also a list containing the names of civil activists.

He warned that such an offensive would only "create further suffering, alienate and radicalize more Syrians" and "play into the hands of terrorists".

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

Assad's regime has been repeatedly accused of using chemical weapons during the conflict and past year US President Donald Trump unleashed Tomahawk missiles against the regime's Shayrat airbase following an attack that killed more than 80 people.

Russian Federation and Iran want to eliminate what they call "terrorist groups" in the province neighbouring Turkey.

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Analysts said Erdogan failed at the summit to achieve his aim, and his comments appear to indicate growing frustration in Turkey that Iran and Russian Federation are not reining in Assad.

Erdogan said that a focus on the potential use of chemical weapons alone was not enough.

"In Idlib, we have to employ different approaches that require time and patience", he said, reiterating that there could be no military victory in Syria.

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

A senior security source said the army has reinforced 12 Turkish military posts inside Idlib itself.

Turkey, fearing an influx of refugees in the event of a major assault, has repeatedly warned against a "massacre" in this last stronghold of the Syrian opposition.

The operation "will clear remnants of (IS) from northeastern Syria along the Middle Euphrates River Valley toward the Syria-Iraq border", the US-led coalition said.

Haley, the United Nations envoy, again warned Assad and his allies that any assault on Idlib would be considered "reckless" by the USA and "the consequences will be dire". They are believed to be holding them in the Safaa area.