Turkey arms rebels as Idlib prepares for Syrian onslaught


The UN is bracing for a mass movement of 900,000 people who are expected to flee if the government launches a large-scale offensive in Syria's last rebel-held region of Idlib.

Recalling Turkey's efforts to find a political solution to the ongoing Syrian crisis, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Friday that Turkey is working to reach a ceasefire in Idlib and the two presidents will discuss the issue on Monday.

The presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation met in Tehran on Friday but failed to agree on a ceasefire in Idlib.

More than 360,000 people have been killed across war-ravaged Syria in seven years, a monitoring group said Thursday, in a new toll for the brutal conflict.

The United Nations, world powers, and aid groups alike have warned a full-fledged offensive on Idlib could create a humanitarian calamity.

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A wall along the border between Turkey and Syria is pictured at the Syrian town of Atimah, Idlib province, in this picture taken from Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey October 10, 2017.

Over the past few years, thousands of rebels have been evacuated from different parts of Syria to Idlib under agreements with the government.

Russian Federation and Iran are major allies of the Syrian government, while Ankara backs some rebel fighters.

"We are ready to cooperate with everyone in the fight against terror groups but the killing of civilians, women and children under the guise of fighting against terror is not correct", he said. Conditions are dire for numerous civilian women, men, and children in Idlib, especially for those who have already been displaced from other parts of the country and for those living in designated terrorist controlled territory.

"We will continue our efforts with Iran and with Russian Federation".

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"Any offensive on the civilian people in Idlib was going to be dealt with", Haley told Fox News' Bret Baier.

Russia-backed regime forces have massed around Idlib in recent weeks, sparking fears of an imminent air and ground attack to retake the last major opposition bastion.

Earlier in September, the Presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation held a tripartite summit in Tehran to discuss the fate of Idlib.

This is contrary to global humanitarian law, the OCHA spokesperson said, adding that one of the hospitals was also in a protected "deconfliction zone", whose coordinates had been given to the warring parties to spare it from attack.

Another proposal is to open humanitarian corridors through which civilians could leave to government-controlled areas, although that suggestion has yet to gain any traction.

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