Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

38500 flee hostilities in Syria's Idlib in two weeks

38500 flee hostilities in Syria's Idlib in two weeks

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlu Cavusoglu had said earlier that Erdogan and Putin would hold talks on the crisis in Syria on Monday.

The Syrian regime recently announced plans to launch a major military offensive in the area, which has always been controlled by various armed opposition groups.

Erdogan and Putin met last week at a summit on Syria organized by their Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in Tehran.

Idlib is the last remaining stronghold of various jihadist groups that once sought to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad, with support from the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other regional powers.

The government and its backers, Russian Federation and Iran, say Idlib is ruled by terrorists and are threatening to seize it from the opposition by force.

Syrian activists said Thursday that a Turkish convoy entered from Kfar Lusin crossing into northern Idlib, heading to some of the 12 Turkish observations posts.

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.

He also said that Turkey wants Idlib's current status to be maintained to ensure the safety of civilians, as well as that of Turkish troops stationed in the province.

Over the past few years, thousands of rebels have been evacuated from different parts of Syria to Idlib under agreements with the government.

Syrian government forces, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, have been massing troops for weeks in preparation for an attack on Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in the country.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week, Erdogan warned that an Idlib offensive would "create serious humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, the rest of Europe and beyond".

A pro-Assad source in Syria said: "There is patience and repositioning now". About 4,500 of them have returned to their homes following a slight calming, Moumtzis said, calling it a "barometer".

Government bombardment of Idlib has dropped as of Tuesday after days of stepped up bombing campaign against the Syrian opposition's last bastion in the country.

The observation posts were set up in the Idlib region past year under an accord with Russian Federation and Iran designating Idlib and parts of neighboring provinces a "de-escalation zone".

Its military and defense chiefs visited border areas on Friday to inspect troop reinforcements sent to its Hatay and Gaziantep provinces.

It said in the Idlib attack, government helicopters dropped at least two barrels carrying chlorine payloads in the Taleel area near the town of Saraqeb. "Another migrant wave coming to Turkey at a time when we already host millions of refugees will cause other complications", he said".

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