Ceasefire talks fail as airstrikes target last rebel-held region in Syria
12 September, 2018, 01:56
Representatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran, meet with the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria to discuss the situation in Syria.
More than 3 million people live in the rebel-held territory, almost half of them already displaced from fighting elsewhere in Syria.
Last week the French ambassador, whose country also vowed to strike Syria if what it deems credible chemical allegations emerge, said during a U.N. Security Council meeting on Idlib: "Syria is once again at the edge of an abyss".
US President Donald Trump's national security adviser said the United States, Britain and France had agreed that another use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime would result in a "much stronger response" compared to previous air strikes.
State-run Al-Ikhbariya TV said the government was retaliating against overnight shelling from rebel-held areas on a government-held town in Hama province, south of Idlib.
The Russian defence ministry, citing Idlib residents, said film crews from several Middle Eastern TV channels as well as "a regional branch of a leading USA news channel" had arrived for the shoot in the city of Jisr al-Shughur in Idlib.
Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock's comments in Geneva came days after Iran and Russian Federation backed a military campaign in the rebel-held area despite Turkey's pleas for a cease-fire.
In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the worldwide community to take action and said that an offensive on Idlib province would result in "serious humanitarian risks for Turkey, the rest of Europe and beyond".
"Russia, Iran and Assad are demolishing Idlib and asking us to call it peace", Nikki Haley, the U.S.'s United Nations envoy said in remarks before the Security Council.
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The group also said the airstrikes caused a limited amount of internal displacement, uprooting almost 700 families from their homes in several parts of Idlib.
For weeks, regime troops backed by Russian Federation and Iran have massed around Idlib's periphery, with deadly airstrikes, shelling, and barrel bombs falling with increased intensity in recent days.
Fresh Russian bombardments in northwestern Syria have sent tens of thousands of people fleeing their homes in recent days, prompting a Turkish outcry over an anticipated assault and an inevitable new wave of refugees on its border.
"I'm not going to tell the world ahead of time what we're going to do".
"We're deeply concerned about this recent escalation of violence, which has resulted in the displacement of over 30,000 in the area".
More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's civil war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-Assad protests. The OCHA chief, Mark Lowcock, warned that this risked provoking the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st Century.
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Turkey has already taken in over three million refugees from Syria and Ankara fears any large offensive will lead a new refugee influx of up to two million from Idlib.
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