U.S. military now drawing up options incase Syria use chemical weapons

Blanche Robertson
September 15, 2018

A Syrian government offensive in the country's northern region of Idlib would cause humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, Europe and beyond, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

In the newspaper article, Erdogan called on the worldwide community to take action, and warned that "the entire world stands to pay the price" otherwise.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that the representatives of Turkey, Russia, and Iran - the guarantor countries within the framework of the Astana peace procress - met UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura on September 10 and 11 in Geneva. "It was noted that the situation there is really hard and every effort is needed to spare civilians from suffering", he stressed.

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.

"We want to come to an understanding with them" the Syrian FM said.

Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock's comments in Geneva came days after Iran and Russian Federation backed a military campaign in the rebel-held area despite Turkey's pleas for a cease-fire.

"Idlib province is.a sort of zone of responsibility of Turkey; it is their responsibility to separate the moderate opposition from the extremists, from Jabhat al-Nusra and other groups, other terrorist groups", he said.

Russian Federation and Iran, which support Assad's regime, and Turkey, which backs the moderate opposition, have been in close cooperation for the last 1.5 years that aim at finding a solution to the Syrian conflict. "The consequences of inaction are vast", he said.

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"I also want to reiterate what I said last week to the Assad regime and anyone else contemplating the use of chemical weapons in Syria", Haley added. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

Mark Lowcock, the UN's new humanitarian chief, warned on Monday that a large-scale military operation against Idlib could create "the worst humanitarian catastrophe" of this century.

"We go wherever it's safe", said the man in his 30s.

Turkey now hosts almost 3.5 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world.

He said this requires time and patience and is what Turkey has been trying to achieve in its separation efforts in Idlib.

"Turkey has a plan, Madam President, in Idlib and it does involve reaching an agreement with the Syrian opposition whereby the regime refrains from attacking them while they combat terrorism", she said referring to Nikki Haley, the U.S.'s United Nations envoy and council president. They are believed to be holding them in the Safaa area.

There are also tens of thousands of rebels from Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army groups as well as millions of civilians - many already displaced from other parts of Syria.

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