Refugee calamity feared as battle for Syria's Idlib looms large

United States Ambassador Nikki Haley addresses a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday

United States Ambassador Nikki Haley addresses a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday

They say strikes targeted eastern and southern parts of Idlib, as well as the bordering province of Hama.

The Turkish leader said he feared a massacre and Turkey could not accommodate any more refugees flooding over its border.

However, some analysts maintain that Washington's warnings to Assad over the use of chemical weapons against civilians should extend to conventional arms as well. Yet the goal remained to have the roughly 2,200 US troops in Syria exiting sometime this fall.

The UN and aid groups have warned a military campaign in Idlib could spark one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in the seven-year Syrian war.

Iran and Russian Federation have backed a military campaign in the area - which is the rebels' last remaining major stronghold - despite Turkey's appeal for a truce.

An estimated half a million people have died in the Syrian conflict since March 2011 and 12 million more have fled their homes to seek refuge inside the country or overseas. "The least the summit can do is to prevent this military war", he said.

Putin icily retorted, "The armed militants are not present at our table, are not taking part in our talks. And more still, there are no representatives of Jabhat al-Nusra or ISIS or the Syrian army".

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However, Trump has yet to make a public statement regarding this new policy shift and it is unclear whether Trump has actually thrown his weight behind it, given that the Post quoted Jeffrey as saying only, "I am confident the president is on board with this". It would be good. "But we can not speak on their behalf and [even less so on behalf of] Jabhat al-Nusra, IS terrorists, that they will stop their attacks, that they will stop using their drones". However, the Post article itself admits that 14,000 fighters in Idlib are linked to al-Qaeda, though the figure is likely much higher.

Black, who flew from Paris to Beirut and then traveled five hours by auto to Damascus, said his flight and lodging outside of Syria were covered by Nasser Ani, a prominent surgeon from New Jersey who chairs the Syrian American Forum.

Erdogan called for a "truce", while Russia's president said Damascus "has a right and must eventually take under control all of its national territory". "It is necessary for the fight to continue until all terrorist groups in Syria especially in Idlib are eradicated", he said.

Washington has threatened military action in case of a chemical weapons attack but its mixed messaging on retaining a United States presence in Syria and a cut in aid has diminished its already limited influence over the seven-year conflict. Russian Federation has described Idlib as a "nest of terrorists", while the United Nations has warned an assault on the area could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on August 25 that militants were making preparations together with British intelligence services to stage a chemical weapons attack in the Idlib province and blame it on the Syrian government. Russian warplane were already bombing the region, which holds about 70,000 opposition fighters and 2 million Syrian civilians, in recent days.

Despite dire United States warnings and fears of a humanitarian disaster, the Trump administration has little leverage to stop Russia, Iran and Syria pressing ahead with a massive military assault against Syria's northwest Idlib province. They might come to Turkey or go back to their own countries. "Turkey has filled its capacity to host refugees". "And the United States is going to get very angry, too", Trump said Wednesday.

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