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

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A full-scale regime assault on Syria's last opposition and rebel-held province of Idlib would sabotage the ongoing political process, Turkey's presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Erdogan.

Erdogan warned that the planned counter-terrorism campaign in Idlib "would also create serious humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, the rest of Europe and beyond", apparently referring to a fresh influx of Syrian refugees in the wake of the Idlib battle.

United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura invited high-ranking diplomats from the three Syrian ceasefire guarantor nations for consultations in Geneva on September 10-11.

Exhortations about terrorists and Russia's alleged desire to protect civilians have been repeated time and again before every major government offensive that claimed civilian lives, such as in Aleppo and the Damascus suburbs of eastern Ghouta, and flies in the face of Moscow's record of civilian casualties.

U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser said on Monday the United States, Britain and France had agreed that another use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would result in a "much stronger response" compared to previous Western air strikes there.

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".

His remarks came as Syrian troops, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, massed around the northwestern province ahead of an expected onslaught against the largest rebel-held zone left in the country.

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Damascus, backed by allies Russian Federation and Iran, has been preparing a major assault to recover Idlib and adjacent areas of northwest Syria from rebels.

But he said Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan were working hard to find a solution.

"The United States is long past taking Russian Federation and Iran at their word that they are interested in protecting civilians in Idlib from further violence", she said. "This includes some 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), the majority of whom are women and children, who came to the region from other areas".

Turkey, fearing an influx of refugees in the event of a major assault, has repeatedly warned against a "massacre" in this last stronghold of the Syrian opposition.

And Haley warned Assad and his allies for a second time that any assault on Idlib would be considered "reckless" by the US and "the consequences will be dire".

Two rebel commanders said Turkey had ordered the bulk of this force to move towards the Idlib frontlines. The Turkish army has also sent troops into Syrian rebel-held territory further east, in an area north of Aleppo city. Let us make no mistake: "such an operation would not achieve the stated goal", he told the Security Council.

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