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30000 flee Syria's Idlib region as UN fears century's 'worst' crisis

12 September 2018

He added that Russian Federation and Iran were also responsible for stopping a humanitarian disaster in Idlib, and said the global community had to "throw its weight behind a political solution".

More than three million people have fled to Idlib and as many as 70,000 opposition fighters are dug in there.

The talks led by Staffan de Mistura started and ended with little or no comment to reporters at the United Nations offices in Geneva, and offered a sideshow to the concerns about a looming battle for the northern province - the last remaining rebel stronghold in Syria after 7½ years of war and now home to some 3 million civilians.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the US, Britain and France had agreed another use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government would result in a "much stronger response" compared to previous air strikes.

He said that the United Nations had plans to reach up to 800,000 people who might be displaced, and were bracing for around 100,000 people to move into government-held areas and some 700,000 to initially flee within Idlib.

"On the other side, we have the Turks who fear an influx of hundreds of thousands of people into their country and the Turks also maintain a dozen observation posts inside Idlib as well", Ms Abouzeid said.

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Russian and Syrian regime jets have already carried out intensive airstrikes while Assad's forces have shelled the edges of rebel-held areas.

Turkey on Monday urged Syria and Russian Federation to halt all bombing on the Syrian province of Idlib, and called for a ceasefire in the region near its border.

Russia, which has been assisting Assad in purging the terrorists since 2015, has echoed the same point, specifically naming the White Helmets activist group as the real perpetrators of the Douma attack.

"President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province", Trump wrote September 3 on Twitter.

"Our top line message is there needs to be ways of dealing with this problem that don't turn the next few months in Idlib into the worst humanitarian catastrophe, with the biggest loss of life of the 21st century", UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock told reporters in Geneva.

The comments came four days after the Turkish president met his Russian and Iranian counterparts for a summit in Tehran, where Erdogan sought to avert a bloody assault in Idlib.

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"A major item on the summit's agenda was discussion of efforts to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons".

On Monday, its humanitarian chief made an urgent appeal.

Aid organisations have warned that any military campaign to retake the region of almost three million people on the Turkish border could spark one of the worst humanitarian disasters in Syria's seven-year war.

Turkey, which has recently sent reinforcements to its borders to prevent the influx of more refugees, now hosts more than three million Syrians.

He called instead for an "international counterterrorism operation" in cooperation with Turkish-backed opposition factions to weed out groups like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham that have been blacklisted by the global community.

It was the heaviest bombardment since August 10, when at least 53 civilians were killed in Idlib and the neighbouring province of Aleppo, he said.

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30000 flee Syria's Idlib region as UN fears century's 'worst' crisis