38,500 Flee Hostilities in Syria's Idlib in 2 Weeks

UN chief pushes for protection of civilians in Syria's Idlib

The Nusra leaders have also stressed their intention to fight the government forces along with other ultra-radical groups in that province in northwestern Syria.

He said Idlib is the last so-called "de-escalation zone" in Syria.

Still, the government has kept the priority for reconciliation, but the faltering efforts have left no choice and the military option remained number one in such case.

A full-scale air and ground offensive is likely to send waves of refugees surging toward the sealed Turkey border, coinciding with the onset of winter. The United Nations has warned this could trigger a humanitarian catastrophe in an area where 3 million people live.

President Erdogan of Turkey had been hoping to persuade President Putin of Russian Federation and President Rouhani of Iran, both of whom are backing Assad in the warzone, to agree to a ceasefire to spare the estimated three million people...

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdulrahman said neither Russian nor Syria warplanes had been attacking the area since around midday Monday.

Ankara failed last week to win agreement for a ceasefire from Russian Federation and Iran, President Bashar al-Assad's main backers, but there has been a recent lull in air strikes and a pro-Damascus source indicated a ground attack may not be imminent.

Turkey has appealed for a cease-fire in Idlib, which straddles its borders and is home to more than 3 million people.

Idlib makes up a major chunk of Syria's northwest corner, the last bastion of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey has 12 military posts inside Idlib province, and activists reported on Thursday that Turkish reinforcements crossed over into Syria to fortify the installations.

Rebel sources told Reuters that Turkey has also stepped up supplies to the rebel forces in Idlib in recent days, including ammunition and rockets.

"What happened was destruction all over, burning, something you can't describe", said Ali al-Mheymid, 50, who escaped the village of Sarjah in Idlib province with his family last week.

"It is completely inexcusable that no party to this conflict adhered to their obligations toward civilians displaced by their military operations", said Commission Chair Paulo Pinheiro.

It said that this support aims to "use military force against the Nusra Front if it rejected to dissolve itself and leave the areas of moderate rebels", without specifying the new destination for those militants.

Lavrov said the details would be discussed next week at a meeting between Russian and Turkish presidents. Moscow, Tehran and Ankara agreed to continue to apply efforts to protect civilians and improve the humanitarian situation in this Arab country.



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