Turkey arms rebels as Idlib prepares for Syrian onslaught

Iranian Foreign Minister's Special Assistant for Political Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari Russian President's Special Representative for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan

UN chief pushes for protection of civilians in Syria's Idlib

They say the province is home to terror groups.

It came amid rising global concern that a looming Syrian government assault against rebels in the northwest province of Idlib would be a "bloodbath".

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week, Erdogan warned that an Idlib offensive would "create serious humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, the rest of Europe and beyond".

The United Nations has warned of a potential humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold if an expected offensive is carried out by the Syrian government and its allied Russian forces.

Assad has vowed to retake the region, backed by his Russian and Iranian allies. Moscow, Tehran and Ankara agreed to continue to apply efforts to protect civilians and improve the humanitarian situation in this Arab country.

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Damascus, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, has been preparing a major assault to recover the region.

"What happened was destruction all over, burning, something you can't describe", said Ali al-Mheymid, 50, who escaped the village of Sarjah in Idlib province with his family last week. Many of those have been displaced from other parts of Syria in recent years. It said it was prepared to deliver emergency food assistance for up to 1 million people.

Conflicting parties must cease and refrain from the future use of indiscriminate weapons or tactics to target thousands of fighters interspersed among 2.9 million civilians, including one million children.

Twice before, the USA has resorted to missile strikes in response to chemical weapons attacks, only to see them used again.

Wissam Zarqa, a university teacher in Idlib, said demonstrators were flying the tri-color flag to rebut the government line that Idlib is dominated by the al-Qaida linked Levant Liberation Committee group.

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The Russian military has been fighting alongside Syrian government troops in the 7-year civil war.

It said the Douma attacks occurred on January 22 and February 1.

The U.S., Britain and France launched a missile attack in April to punish President Bashar Assad for another chlorine attack that they blamed the government. Syrian government forces have massed to the south and southwest of the province.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement late Wednesday that 38,300 were displaced by the violence since September 1, majority heading toward the Turkish-Syrian borders to already overcrowded displaced persons camps.

The areas include southern regions on the fronts with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights as well as eastern suburbs of Damascus known as eastern Ghouta.

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"In conducting airstrikes beginning on 20 January, the Turkish air force may have failed to take all feasible precautions prior to launching certain attacks, in violation of worldwide humanitarian law", the report said.

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