World News

Erdogan urges Russia, Iran to stop 'disaster' in Idlib

Erdogan urges Russia, Iran to stop 'disaster' in Idlib

"We've tried to convey the message in recent days that if there's a third use of chemical weapons, the response will be much stronger", Bolton said in a speech on Monday in Washington.

"For months we have been saying this concentration of population and armed groups transported or transferred to Idlib was a (time) bomb".

Turkey has renewed calls for worldwide backing for a ceasefire in Idlib, telling the United Nations security council that an all-out assault on Syria's rebel-held province would trigger a huge wave of refugees and could threaten Europe.

"We would also like the [US-led] coalition to share its plans regarding Syria with us", Vasily Nebenzya told the UN Security Council session to sum up the results of the September 7 summit of Russia, Iran and Turkey. And Turkey, the US and France have threatened to retaliate against Syria, though the countries didn't say exactly what could lead to a military response.

The Trump Administration has calculated that Assad's defiance risks a domino effect around the globe.

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

Syria has been ravaged since 2011 by a complex civil war, implicating many foreign powers, that has claimed more than 350,000 lives to date.

Syria surrendered its entire chemical stockpile in 2013 to a mission led by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN.

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The WSJ report cites White House discussions of a third strike - in reference to USA attacks on Syria during the last two Aprils after chemical allegations were made against Damascus - while indicating it would "likely would be more expansive than the first two" and could include targeting Russian Federation and Iran.

The remaining, much larger force of around 50,000 soldiers are members of the more moderate Free Syrian Army, which is heavily backed by Ankara and has been trained and supplied by the Turkish military.

On Monday, the head of the United Nations humanitarian agency, Mark Lowcock, warned that Idlib could see "the worst humanitarian catastrophe, with the biggest loss of life of the 21st century".

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders warned last week that the US will respond "swiftly and appropriately" should Assad use chemical weapons against the Syrian people, and Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning explained Monday that "the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated by the USA or the coalition". US warships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the base.

France, the European country worst hit by a wave of jihadist attacks since 2015, has been on high alert for radicals returning home from areas of Iraq and Syria that have been recaptured from IS. This was in reference to the attacks earlier this year on the rebel-held town of Douma, eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.

On April 13, US bomber jets, warships, and an attack submarine launched strikes along with French and British fighter jets in a more sweeping attack. Still, it remains unclear what precisely would prompt a new round of airstrikes, whether a chlorine gas attack or one that uses a deadly nerve agent, like sarin. The Administration has been deliberately vague on the topic.

It has been the target in recent days of artillery bombing by the regime forces of President Bashar al-Assad, as well as Russian airstrikes. "The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Don't let that happen!"

Syrians escaping violence in Idlib have arrived in villages near the Turkish border in droves, fearing Damascus will launch a full-blown assault on the rebel stronghold.


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