Turkey warns against "bloodshed" in Syria's Idlib

Marsha Scott
September 9, 2018

When the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran meet in Tehran on Friday, Sept. 7, all eyes will be on their diplomacy averting a bloodbath in Idlib, Syria's crowded northwestern province and last opposition stronghold.

Aid organisations have warned that any military campaign to retake the region of almost three million people on the Turkish border could spark one of the worst humanitarian disasters in Syria's seven-year war.

The plan will also secure the Russian Hmeimim military base in Latakia province, as well as mineral deposits in the region, it said.

Besides, many dislocated people will be flooded to Turkey's borders, which is out of Ankara's control, he warned.

Just months after proclaiming to the American public that US soldiers will completely withdraw from Syria "very soon", President Donald Trump has reportedly agreed to a new strategy under which the more than 2,000 troops now occupying the war-torn nation will remain "indefinitely". And in a sign of the administration's shrinking commitment to Syria, it has pulled more than $200 million in stabilization funding for liberated areas, telling other nations they should step up to pay.

They're determined to reclaim it from the thousands of militants they say are hiding among civilians.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (l.), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (c.), and President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation arrive at a news conference following their summit in Tehran, Sept. 7, 2018, in which they addressed the much-anticipated military offensive to retake the last Syrian rebel bastion of Idlib. All three nations agree that the threat of radical Islamists in Syria must be eliminated, but differed as to how this should be achieved. "That would be absurd", she told the council.

According to the UN, Idlib is home to about 2.9 million civilians, including 1.4 million displaced from other parts of Syria.

In a series of tweets following a trilateral summit with the leaders of Russian Federation and Iran in Tehran, Erdogan said resorting to methods that would disregard civilian lives would "play into the hands of terrorists". The US, Britain and France have vowed to take action against any further chemical attacks by Assad's regime. "It is in their power to do so".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of a looming "catastrophe" as Syrian troops prepare for the last major battle of a seven-year civil war and the Damascus regime's backer Iran insisted the fight against terrorism will continue until the end.

Those remarks capped a week of rising United States rhetoric opposing the Idlib operation.

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People in Idlib waved flags and banners as they protested against the expected all-out government offensive.

A day later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expanded on the tweet, and renewed calls for the conflict to be resolved through the UN-led Geneva Process, which has been stalled for years. Russian Federation has suggested the rebels could use chemical weapons in a final battle for the rebel stronghold.

Another "tool" in the U.S. arsenal is economic pressure.

"Idlib's fate should be decided by its people".

There was periodic cooperation between the United States and Russian Federation against the same jihadist groups operating in Idlib until mid-2017.

Syrian civil defense members search near a burned vehicle in Hass after an airstrike southern Idlib province on September 8, 2018.

The dilemma facing the rebels and Sunni jihadist militants is that there are few places left to flee to should the Assad regime attack.

In addition to attempting to expel Iranian forces, the Trump administration's new "strategy" in Syria will also consist of the "establishment of a stable, nonthreatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the worldwide community", notes the Post.

What will happen to US troops in Syria? "There is lots of evidence that chemical weapons are being prepared".

Erdogan's efforts to reverse this played out live with the leaders and their delegations assembled around a giant white table as the press cameras continued, inexplicably, to roll.

Kurdish security forces, known as Asayish, said that a government patrol entered the areas controlled by the Kurdish militia in Qamishli and began arresting civilians, then shot at a Kurdish checkpoint, sparking the gun battle.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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