Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

Turkey boosts arms to Syrian rebels as Idlib attack looms, groups say

President Erdogan says if action is not taken to halt an attack on Idlib 'the entire world stands to pay the price' President Erdogan says if action is not taken to halt an attack on Idlib 'the entire world stands to pay the price'
Patty Aguilar | 14 September, 2018, 08:22

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for "a more comprehensive global counterterrorism operation", one that would include Syrian rebels he characterized as moderate.

Erdogan argued in the opinion article that the price of inaction in Idlib would ultimately lead to a large-scale humanitarian disaster.

"All members of the global community must understand their responsibilities as the assault on Idlib looms", Erdoğan wrote.

"If Assad, Russia and Iran continue down the path they are on, the consequences will be dire", she said. "Such an operation would trigger a massive wave of refugees and tremendous security risks for Turkey, the rest of Europe and beyond", adding that no security concern could justify risking millions of lives.

Turkey is a leading opposition supporter which has troops in the country and has erected 12 observation posts around Idlib. "We will see them finding a secure place on the border and create their own living areas if the operation starts".

One source close to the White House told Al-Monitor that the U.S. administration was resigned to the Syrian offensive and acknowledged there were few options to stop it.

A leading United Nations official warned on Monday that a Syrian regime offensive on an opposition province could spark the "worst humanitarian crisis" of the 21st century.

Attack on Idlib could lead to worst loss of life this century: UN official

The Idlib area forms part of an arc of territory in the northwest representing the last big area held by the opposition.

"Russia and Iran also rejected similar calls from the United Kingdom and others at the U.N. Security Council on the same day", Burt added.

The UN Security Council met earlier to hear a briefing from Russian Federation, which insisted that the planned assault on Idlib is a "counterterrorism operation" and that measures will be taken to spare civilians.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighters died in clashes with the militants on Monday night in the Safaa region in the Syrian desert.

"We're deeply concerned about this recent escalation of violence, which has resulted in the displacement of over 30,000 in the area. That's something we're monitoring very closely", OCHA spokesman David Swanson told AFP. Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to United Nations figures.

The Russian and Syrian strikes have already displaced more than 30,000 people, and forces are targeting hospitals and other medical facilities, Haley said, adding that pro-regime forces are also "conducting ruthless "double tap strikes" on civilian volunteers like the White Helmets", in which they "strike an area, wait a few moments for first responders to arrive and then strike again".

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Erdogan accused the central bank of failing to control inflation, now standing at 18 percent, and again aired his unorthodox view that low rates bring inflation down.

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