Syria Idlib: UN warns of threat to civilians if new offensive begins
The UN envoy to Syria has warned of a “excellent storm” in north-west Syria if the government goes ahead with its threatened offensive against rebels.
Staffan de Mistura known as for humanitarian corridors to be set up to allow civilians to be evacuated temporarily.
With rebels defeated in most of Syria, such an offensive could prove to be the final massive battle of the civil war.
Russia, the government’s main military ally, has also stepped up its rhetoric.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “terrorists” need to be wiped out in Idlib, accusing them of utilizing civilians as human shields.
Each he and his Syrian counterpart, Walid Muallem, accused rebels of preparing to stage a chemical attack in Idlib in order to blame pro-government forces and draw new US military retaliation.
Mr de Mistura mentioned each the government and the rebels had the potential to make chlorine-based chemical weapons.
Why such urgency?
Virtually 3 million men and women live in Idlib exactly where, according a UN estimate, there are around 10,000 al-Nusra and al-Qaeda jihadist fighters.
The fighters must be defeated, Mr de Mistura stated, but not at the expense of thousands of civilian lives.
“There is a best storm primarily based on warnings, counter-warnings which is gathering about and due to the dilemma, which is a true dilemma on how to defeat terrorists in Idlib and at the same time stay away from affecting a large number of civilians,” he stated.
“So, whilst we are conscious that efforts and discussions are taking spot to avoid the worst-case scenario, one particular cannot ignore that miscalculations could indeed occur top to unforeseen escalation and we are all very much concerned.”
The UN is desperate to stay away from the deaths of civilians observed recently in other components of Syria like Aleppo, Raqqa or the Eastern Ghouta, and its diplomats are pleading with those fighting to show restraint.
Mr de Mistura presented to go to Idlib personally to set up a humanitarian corridor which, he acknowledged, would imply evacuating folks into government-controlled territory.
“That region most probably is beneath government control, so that demands a constructive, effective government assistance and a UN presence,” he stated.
Is Russia most likely to get involved once again?
Speaking soon after talks in Moscow, Syria’s foreign minister was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying his government would “go all the way” in Idlib and its main target were the Nusra militants.
Nusra has changed its names numerous times and is at the moment recognized as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
Both Nusra and al-Qaeda are listed as foreign terrorist organisations by the US state division.
Moscow backed previous Syrian government offensives with its airpower and the Russian navy is now gathering in strength in the Mediterranean Sea.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned significant naval drills, due to begin on Saturday, have been justified by events in Syria.
He added the “hotbed of terrorists” in Idlib need to be tackled.
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How poor is the civil war currently?
Soon after far more than seven years of fighting, much more than 400,000 people are dead or missing, and more than half the population have been driven out of their properties.
Idlib has been a haven for rebels and their households evacuated out of regions won back by the government, but there is no apparent place for them to move to within Syria if they abandon the province now.
Any offensive on Idlib could raise tensions with Turkey, which maintains observation posts around rebel territory as portion of a “de-escalation deal” with Russia and Iran, an additional ally of the Syrian government.
- Why is there a war in Syria?
Published at Thu, 30 Aug 2018 16:04:34 +0000