Turkish agency launches aid campaign for Syria’s Idlib

Medical facility in Hass is damaged in an airstrike

Medical facility in Hass is damaged in an airstrike

Moscow wants to keep rebels from using weaponised drones against Russian warplanes positioned nearby.

The attack occurred late on Monday in the rural Tulul Al-Safa area of the province, about 100 km southeast of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

About 3.5 million people are crammed into Idlib and the surrounding areas, at least half of whom have fled vanquished opposition areas.

"There might be another refugee flow but we plan not to open our borders and settle the refugees in the camps prepared for them on the Syrian side of the border", Volkan Bozkir, the head of the Turkish parliament's foreign affairs committee and a former government minister, told the Cumhuriyet newspaper.

Erdogan had called for a truce in an attempt to avoid a full-scale Syrian government assault on Idlib.

"This would unleash a humanitarian nightmare unlike any seen in the blood-soaked Syrian conflict", he told reporters.

Ankara, which already hosts more than three million Syrian refugees, fears a new mass exodus and has called repeatedly for a ceasefire to give time for a negotiated settlement.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal this week that called on the global community to stop the Syrian Arab Army's (SAA) upcoming offensive in Idlib, Al-Masdar News reports.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged the global community to prevent a Syrian government offensive in Syria's Idlib, as the United Nations says it fears the century's "worst humanitarian catastrophe" there.

France, the European country worst hit by a wave of jihadist attacks since 2015, has been on high alert for radicals returning home from areas of Iraq and Syria that have been recaptured from IS.

Syria's conflict has killed more than 350,000 people and forced millions more out of their homes, but the United Nations has warned a full-blown attack on Idlib could bring unprecedented suffering. "The United States followed through when we said that we would respond to the use of chemical weapons".

A further complicating factor for Turkish aid agencies is that many civilians themselves are now carrying arms for protection, making it harder to distinguish them from fighters.

The second factor is the potential use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces. So they stock up on resources and fit children with homemade gas masks.

Erdogan last week met with his Russian and Iranian counterparts in Tehran as Russia continued bolstering forces in the eastern Mediterranean. "There is no doubt that such provocations are being prepared", he added, noting that terrorist groups operating in Syria are on the defensive and are getting desperate, as the Syrian government's mission to combat and defeat the terrorist threat continues to make progress.

Already hosting 3.5 million Syrians - the world's biggest refugee population - Turkey says it can not absorb more victims of the war and has accused the West of abandoning it to face the consequences of President Bashar al-Assad's reconquest of Syria. The United States and Russian Federation keep blaming each other.

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