Turkey: International community must act to prevent Idlib crisis

15 September, 2018, 15:54 | Author: Mable Gonzales
  • Turkey deploys military vehicles to Syria

Kalin said Turkey expects all parties to make "constructive" contributions and agree on a political solution on Syria.

The preparations came as Russian jets and Syrian helicopters on Monday resumed intensive strikes in Idlib and Hama for a third day, with sources saying the Syrian army helicopters were dropping barrel bombs.

Three Turkish security and government officials told Reuters that troops, armoured vehicles and equipment had been sent to the Syrian border.

Russia-backed government forces have been massing for weeks around Idlib, which is home to almost three million people, many of them already dependent on aid.

The UN's World Food Programme, he said had already prepositioned food stocks for some 850,000 people for the first week or so of any large-scale military operation. He also stressed the need to prevent civilian casualties.

"We are very actively preparing for the possibility that civilians move in huge numbers in multiple directions", he said.

A full-scale military offensive on Idlib risks creating the worst humanitarian tragedy of the 21st century, United Nations aid agencies have said, amid concerns that a severe funding shortfall threatens the most vulnerable victims of the conflict.

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.

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Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki visited the ICC in May and called on it to open an immediate investigation. Similar measures would be taken against any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans, he said.

But officials admit that the wall has left those stranded in Idlib with little prospect of escape.

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.

Turkish forces and Turkish-backed opposition fighters now control an area between Afrin and Jarabulus where Ankara had hoped to resettle the millions of refugees.

There were also attacks from Idlib province on a Russian air base and on Syrian government positions, which made the situation untenable.

The province is marbled with areas controlled by Islamists, moderate rebels and militants from Hayat Tahrir Al Sham HTS - an extremist group previously aligned with Al Qaeda.

Turkey has continued to provide humanitarian relief to opposition areas in Idlib and Latakia - situated in Syria's north - and operates a number of military observation posts in the province. Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to United Nations figures.

Use of the incendiary white phosphorus munitions in highly populated areas, such as Deir Ezzor where the purported strikes took place, is prohibited under global law. Let's stop this civil war in Idlib.


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