Thousands protest in Syria's Idlib against possible Assad offensive

Posted September 09, 2018

In a statement Thursday on the eve of a meeting in Tehran of the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey, which supports Syria's opposition, the eight nations warned that a full-scale military offensive in Idlib would have "potentially catastrophic humanitarian consequences for civilians".

Putin accused the fighters of using civilians for cover. Yet the goal remained to have the roughly 2,200 USA troops in Syria exiting sometime this fall.

"The Trump Administration and the worldwide community have made it clear that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict", Haley told the Council, which was to hold another meeting Friday on the crisis in Idlib.

The Trump administration has warned for days about an expected assault on Idlib, the last major stronghold for rebels fighting in Syria, while urging Syrian leader Bashar Assad and his allies not to use chemical weapons.

More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's civil war started in 2011 with the repression of anti-Assad protests.

Others said Middle East politics are so complicated that voters may pay little attention. "And more still, there are no representatives of Jabhat al-Nusra or ISIS or the Syrian army". They remain "the biggest number of [Islamic State] and Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists in Syria", wrote columnist Murat Yetkın in the Hürriyet Daily News on Wednesday.

Russia, which has been building up forces in the region, said it's only targeting al-Qaeda fighters, and accused the USA of preparing to fake a chemical attack to justify new intervention. But there were other armed opposition groups who could join any ceasefire agreement, they said.

The visit to the Greek capital suggests the USA looks to Greece as a potential partner should it need to use United States forces to operate in Syria, reported Newsweek.

In another village in central Idlib, Hass, an area hospital was hit by the airstrikes, putting it out of service and injuring two of its staff members, according to Coordinators of Response, a group of volunteers operating in northern Syria.

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"The U.S. has been very clear" in its warnings against Syria, Haley said.

"To fight terrorism in Idlib is inevitable and part of a mission to bring about peace and stability to Syria", Rouhani said.

Turkey has warned it will not stand by and watch a Russian-led attack on Syria's Idlib province, which it said could turn the densely-packed north west of the country into a "lake of blood" and force an overwhelming exodus of refugees. "Millions will be coming to Turkey's borders because they have nowhere to go. Turkey has filled its capacity to host refugees".

There was periodic cooperation between the United States and Russian Federation against the same jihadist groups operating in Idlib until mid-2017.

The United States came in for criticism from all sides, however, higlighting to complex nature of a conflict involving a myriad of factions.

"Russia is reminding Turkey it needs to stay in Russia's good graces if Turkey wants to avoid a painful catastrophe in northwest Syria", said the researcher at the Center for New American Security.

"Idlib's fate should be decided by its people". They seized the territories, with the backing of the U.S-led coalition, after chasing out Islamic State militants.

"The dangers are profound that any battle for Idlib could be, would be, a horrific and bloody battle", Mistura said.