Turkey calls on worldwide community to avert Idlib assault

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The United States" top general said Saturday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpEx-Playboy model accuses GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy of physical abuse: reports Cohen seeks to vacate hush-money deal with Stormy Daniels Stormy Daniels says she broke into "sobs' when she heard about Cohen's plea MORE has been presented with military options should Syria ignore USA warnings and use chemical weapons in an offensive against the rebel-held Idlib.

The talks led by Staffan de Mistura started and ended with little or no comment to reporters at the United Nations offices in Geneva, and offered a sideshow to the concerns about a looming battle for the northern province - the last remaining rebel stronghold in Syria after 7½ years of war and now home to some 3 million civilians.

Turkey's president on Monday urged the worldwide community to be aware of its responsibilities in Syria as an assault on Idlib looms.

In another village in central Idlib, Hass, an area hospital was hit by the airstrikes, putting it out of service and injuring two of its staff members, according to Coordinators of Response, a group of volunteers operating in northern Syria.

Erdogan on Friday said Turkey couldn't cope with more Syrian refugees, referring to more than 3.5 million people scattered across the country.

The daily went on to say that Turkish army has urged its allied militants to report the exact number of their gunmen and volume of arms and ammunition.


"A regime assault [in Idlib] would also create serious humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, the rest of Europe and beyond", he added.

At least seven civilians were killed after at least 80 airstrikes around the province's southern edge, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Observatory said Saturday that some 2,000 people were already on the move from areas being bombed, heading deeper into Idlib province.

Trump has twice bombed the Syrian regime over the alleged use of chemical weapons, once in April 2017 and then again earlier this year. This prompted the clashes that lasted no more than 20 minutes, he said.

For Russia and Iran, both allies of the Syrian government, retaking Idlib is crucial to complete what they see as a military victory in Syria's civil war after Syrian troops recaptured almost all other major towns and cities, largely defeating the rebellion against Assad.

US President Donald Trump warned last week against an offensive by the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian allies.


"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", John Bolton said, while fielding questions after a policy speech.

"I can say we've been in consultations with the British and the French who have joined us in the second strike and they also agree that another use of chemical weapons will result in a much stronger response".

He said the strikes targeted positions of both rebel groups and the rival Hayat Tahrir Al Sham alliance, led by Al Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate and comprised mostly of hardline Islamist groups.

Idlib province and adjacent rural areas form the largest piece of territory still held by Syria's beleaguered opposition fighters, worn down by a succession of regime victories in recent months.

"The Russian jet fighters and the regime ground forces can not afford attacks while Turkish soldiers are there", Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wrote in a newspaper column at the weekend.

Syrian and Russian forces carried out the most intense bombing in weeks on Idlib province on Saturday, raising fears of an imminent assault on the densely populated rebel-held area.


The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said an all-out military assault on the last major stronghold of active opposition to President Bashar Assad could set 800,000 people to flight.

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