Syria’s Idlib could face worst catastrophe this century
Syria’s Idlib could face worst catastrophe this century
Attack on Idlib could lead to worst loss of life this century: UN official
15 September, 2018, 15:55
The three countries had failed to reach an agreement for a ceasefire, however, prompting Sweden and other nations to again warn of a "humanitarian catastrophe" should the Syria government, backed by Russian Federation, wage a military offensive on Idlib, where millions are at risk.
Moscow and Tehran have given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crucial support throughout the war, which began with a government crackdown on protesters in March 2011.
A 20-truck convoy carrying humanitarian aid for Syria's northwestern province of Idlib set off from Istanbul on Monday, president of a Turkish aid agency said. "That's something we're monitoring very closely", OCHA spokesman David Swanson said.
But half the people here have already fled from other parts of Syria and they have nowhere left to go.
An AFP correspondent in Idlib has seen dozens of displaced families head towards the frontier in recent days to escape bombing elsewhere.
During the seven-year Syrian conflict, the West has accused Damascus on a number of occcasions of using chemical weapons against the civilian population.
"We as humanitarian advocates must raise our voice", said Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
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The UN has said as many as 800,000 people could be displaced by a regime assault on Idlib and surrounding areas.
Britain and France backed the call for a ceasefire, recalling that these had been agreed under arrangements for a "de-escalation zone" in Idlib that were overseen by Russia, Iran and Turkey.
He urged the West, including the United States, to join hands in stopping a possible attack on Idlib.
On Monday, its humanitarian chief made an urgent appeal.
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.
Idlib, which straddles the Turkish border, is mostly under the control of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) - a battle-hardened umbrella group of jihadists led by Al-Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate.
The escalating bombardment has already damaged civilian infrastructure.
It also said that an Islamist group was provided with two canisters of a "chlorine-based chemical" for the objective of the operation.
Damascus, which is backed by its allies Iran and Russian Federation, is preparing a major offensive on Idlib and other areas of northwest Syria to bring them under regime control.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that the representatives of Turkey, Russia, and Iran - the guarantor countries within the framework of the Astana peace procress - met UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura on September 10 and 11 in Geneva.
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