United Nations chief pushes for protection of civilians in Syria's Idlib

Attack on Idlib could lead to worst loss of life this century: UN official

"He's been warned, and so we'll see if he's wised up".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged the global community to prevent a Syrian government offensive in Syria's Idlib, as the United Nations says it fears the century's "worst humanitarian catastrophe" there.

"There is no doubt that an all-out military operation would result in a major humanitarian catastrophe", Turkish Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu told the council meeting.

He warned that such an offensive would only "create further suffering, alienate and radicalize more Syrians" and "play into the hands of terrorists". President Tayyip Erdogan has warned of a humanitarian disaster and security risks for Turkey.

But Turkey is now looking to use the area as a potential refuge for civilians trapped in Idlib if it is unable to secure a buffer zone for civilians along the border in the event of a full-scale assault by pro-Syrian government forces. But Putin said this would be pointless as it would not involve the Islamist militant groups that Russian Federation deems terrorists, and Rouhani said Syria must regain control over all its territory.

More than 30,000 people have so far fled their homes in northwest Syria since Syrian government and allied forces resumed air and ground bombardments there last week, the United Nations agency coordinating relief efforts said on Monday.

The Turkish army has also deployed in the last week more troops and heavy weaponary to 12 positions in the Idlib region that observe a "de-escalation zone" agreed with Iran and Russian Federation.

The forces of President Bashar Assad used the banned chemical weapons in attacks on Douma, near Damascus, on January 22 and February 1, as well as in the northern Idlib province on February 4, the report quoted by Reuters said.

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Turkey is concerned that HTS could seek to use civilians as human shields and prevent them from reaching Afrin.

The three guarantors bear a particular responsibility since they have their own posts around the situation in Idlib and they have negotiated for a long time the de-escalation zones and different other forms and arrangements, said the United Nations chief. They say they are targeting terrorist groups.

"The consequences of inaction are enormous".

But Russian and Syrian regime air raids on Idlib have intensified in recent days, with a hospital among the targets.

There is an urgent need to make greater progress in the Geneva process, and in particular the creation of a constitutional committee as part of the overall political package, he said.

But Russia and Iran rejected Turkey's call for a cease-fire at the summit in Tehran, she said, "and the Assad regime continued its brutal attacks".

During his remarks, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia repeated the claim that "Syria has no chemical weapons", and said it would be folly on a humanitarian and political basis for the Assad regime to use chemical weapons, as it would prompt the USA and others to attack inside Syria.

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