Syrian FM says regime will try to avoid civilian deaths in Idlib

31 August, 2018, 19:43 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Iran to meet with his Russian and Iranian counterparts Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani Turkish state television said

After hosting nine rounds of fruitless talks between the Syrian government and opposition, de Mistura has recently focused his efforts on talks with the so-called "guarantors" of the peace process: Russia, Turkey and Iran.

A source said on Wednesday that Russia's ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was preparing a phased offensive there.

The prospect of a massive Russian-backed offensive in a province that is home to some three million people - half of them already displaced from other parts of Syria - has raised fears of a new humanitarian tragedy.

"We need to reduce the risk of unexpected escalation, and definitely look with great concern about any potential use of chemical weapons or any type of weaponised chlorine", Mistura said.

The drills will be carried out from September 1-8 and will involve 25 warships, including a missile cruiser, and 30 aircraft, the Defense Ministry said on August 31.

"The Syrian command has taken a decision to defeat Al-Nusra Front in Idlib no matter the sacrifices that it would entail", Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Thursday. The leaders of Turkey, Iran, and Russian Federation are slated to meet next week in Tabriz to discuss the mounting crisis.

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Another provocation is being prepared in order to impede plans to carry out an anti-terrorist operation in Idlib ... "That's why Turkey is negotiating with some of the groups to convince them to drop their weapons, but it's not that easy as each group has power and earns revenues in their areas of control", the diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said. It is one of the areas that Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to "de-escalate" a year ago at a series of talks in the Kazakh capital Astana.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said this month he hoped Ankara and Moscow could find a solution for Idlib, warning that a bombing campaign there would be a massacre.

On Wednesday, Lavrov had described the Idlib-based militants as a "festering abscess" which must be liquidated, RIAnews agency reported.

The drills were announced after North Atlantic Treaty Organisation reported a Russian naval buildup in the Mediterranean - part of what a Russian newspaper on Tuesday called Moscow's largest naval build-up since it entered the Syrian conflict in 2015.

Grandi said an offensive threatens to cause many civilian deaths, fresh displacement and would also discourage refugees from returning.

Idlib has been a haven for rebels and their families evacuated out of areas won back by the government, but there is no obvious place for them to move to within Syria if they abandon the province now. Since then, the regime has recaptured two-thirds of its territory with the help of Russian Federation.

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