United Nations commission: Syria opposition forces should leave Idlib

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

The government officials in Syria have repeatedly said that the reconciliation is a priority in Idlib, or else there will be a wide-scale offensive to retake Idlib, which is the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed the Erdogan-Putin meeting during a joint press conference in Islamabad with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday.

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...

The presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey met last week in Tehran to consider alternatives, but failed to reach a consensus.

An estimated 3 million people live in Idlib, almost half of them having arrived there after being displaced by fighting elsewhere in Syria.

Turkey stands to lose the most from a battle on its border that is sure to have a destabilizing effect on the country and areas it controls inside Syria.

The Assad regime has twice been targeted by United States air and missile strikes after previous alleged chemical attacks, and U.S. officials have in recent days said additional action would follow if Assad uses the banned weapons in rebel-held Idlib.

The war has killed 110,687 civilians, including more than 20,000 children and almost 13,000 women.

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Turkey has appealed for worldwide support to its efforts to halt an offensive.

But his Defence Minister Hulusi Akar says Turkey remains determined to halt the weeks-long air strikes on Idlib and forestall a ground offensive, while officials warn that Turkey would respond if its forces inside Idlib come under fire.

Ankara, which hosts some 3.5 million refugees, has said it could not take any more if an attack on Idlib drove a new surge of people towards its border.

Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday a Turkish convoy entered from Kfar Lusin crossing in northern Idlib, heading to some of the 12 Turkish observations points that ring Idlib. "Another migrant wave coming to Turkey at a time when we already host millions of refugees will cause other complications", he said".

In the provincial capital, Idlib city, and in towns including Kafranbel, Dana, Azaz, Maaret al-Numan and al-Bab, demonstrators filled the streets after noon prayers and chanted against Assad, raising the tri-color green, white and black flag that has become the banner of Syria's 2011 uprising, activists said.

"And we are also assisting in creating humanitarian corridors and safe havens for civilians", he added.

Putin also discussed the situation Idlib with members of Russia's Security Council on Friday, telling them he was concerned by militant activity there, the RIA news agency cited the Kremlin as saying.

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