Russian Federation to brief UN Security Council on Syria´s Idlib

Hugh Fox
September 11, 2018

The world can not leave Syrian people to the mercy of Bashar Assad as his regime only seeks to wipe out its opposition in Idlib with its latest offensive, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an opinion piece to Wall Street Journal published on Monday.

Turkey regards the presence of its troops inside Idlib as a deterrent against a large-scale assault by forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies.

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

Erdogan said the US, which is focused on chemical attacks by the Assad regime, needed to "reject its arbitrary hierarchy of death".

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the US, Britain and France had agreed another use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government would result in a "much stronger response" compared to previous air strikes.

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The council will meet at Russia´s request at 11:00 am (1500 GMT) to hear the briefing as Syrian forces, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, are preparing for an all-out military assault on the rebel-held province.

The opposition accuses Russian Federation and its allies of striking at hospitals and civil defense centers to force rebels to surrender in a repeat of earlier, large-scale military offensives.

The WSJ report cites White House discussions of a third strike - in reference to U.S. attacks on Syria during the last two Aprils after chemical allegations were made against Damascus - while indicating it would "likely would be more expansive than the first two" and could include targeting Russian Federation and Iran.

It appears Washington is now saying an American attack on Syrian government forces and locations is all but inevitable. After each attack, President Donald Trump ordered strikes on Syrian military bases. US warships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the base. Russian Federation was the framework guarantor of removing all the chemical weapons, but apparently did not live up to the deal.

"For Syrians who are on the receiving end, whether chemical weapons or conventional weapons, the end result is likely to be the same."
It is also alarmed by efforts by USA -backed Kurdish YPG forces - regarded by Ankara as an affiliate of PKK separatists it has been battling for decades - to recapture northern areas held by Turkish forces. The U.S. military said the main targets of the strikes were two storage facilities, one that produced sarin, and another was part of a command post, which were located west of the city of Homs.

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Now, the use of chemical weapons is a "red line" that, if crossed, will trigger US and European military response.

The U.S. floundering in Syria began when President Barack Obama warned that Assad would be crossing a red line if he used chemical weapons against his own people.

Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper reported "new USA intelligence" which showed Assad's order has "cleared the way" for the use of the gas. "The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy", Trump tweeted earlier this week.

Turkey worries the violence could send hundreds of thousands of fleeing civilians to its border.

But in a sign that the slowly building military pressure has already triggered a mass movement, the United Nations office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs spokesman David Swanson reported 30,542 people had already been displaced from the north-west of the country by Sunday.

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Syrian ground forces, however, remain on the outskirts of the province, awaiting orders to invade.

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