France warns Russia, allies of committing war crimes in Syria's Idlib
France warns Russia, allies of committing war crimes in Syria's Idlib
Residents of the Idlib province flee toward the Syrian Turkish border
14 September, 2018, 08:20
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is appealing to all parties directly and indirectly involved in Syria - especially Iran, Russia, and Turkey - to protect civilians and avoid a "bloodbath" in the last major rebel-held stronghold in Idlib.
Syrian government and Russian warplanes began air strikes in Idlib last week in a possible prelude to a full-scale offensive and aid organizations said several medical facilities have already been targeted.
The Turkish leader called on a "comprehensive worldwide counter-terrorism operation" and that the assistance of pro-Turkey rebels would be "crucial" in Idlib.
But the United Nations chief said it is especially important that Iran, Russia and Syria - the guarantor states in the so-called "Astana process" aimed at ending the violence in Syria - "find a way in which it is possible to isolate terrorist groups and ... create a situation in which civilians will not be the price paid to solve the problem in Idlib".
It is not the first time France has warnedAssad, Russia or Iran that their aggression could amount to war crimes.
Mark Lowcock, the UN's new humanitarian chief, warned on Monday that a large-scale military operation against Idlib could create "the worst humanitarian catastrophe" of this century.
Government forces, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, have been massing troops for weeks in preparation for an attack on Idlib province that is the last major rebel stronghold in the country. "And if the concern is the presence of the terrorist groups, let's work together to eliminate them", Cavusoglu said during a joint news conference with his Romanian and Polish counterparts in Bucharest, capital of Romania.
"An operation would result in a massacre", Erdogan says.
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.
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USA officials have in recent days said additional action would follow if Assad were to use the banned weapons in rebel-held Idlib.
"Russia, Iran and Assad are demolishing Idlib and asking us to call it peace", she said.
U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley accused the regime's main backers of escalating the violence in Idlib province and using terrorist tactics.
"None of the military units in the area are even equipped with white phosphorous munitions of any kind", Pentagon spokesman Commander Sean Robertson said. They are believed to be holding them in the Safaa area.
The UN has estimated 800,000 people could be displaced by an attack.
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He also blamed terrorists for forcing the government to move on Idlib, a claim rejected by the United States and other nations, which argue that Russian Federation and the Assad regime are using that label to justify the military offensive.
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