U.N. Chief Says a 'Bloodbath' Must be Averted in Syria's Idlib

Idlib is the last stronghold of those trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad

Idlib is the last stronghold of those trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday appealed to Russia, Iran and Turkey to "spare no effort to find solutions that protect civilians" in Syria's Idlib and said it was "absolutely essential" a full-scale battle was avoided.

Senior Turkish officials, who wished to remain anonymous, last week told MEE that Ankara feared that a new offensive in Idlib would disrupt its plans to send refugees now living in Turkey back to northwest Syria by the end of the year.

But the United Nations chief said it is especially important that Iran, Russia and Syria - the guarantor states in the so-called "Astana process" aimed at ending the violence in Syria - "find a way in which it is possible to isolate terrorist groups and ... create a situation in which civilians will not be the price paid to solve the problem in Idlib".

Haley said the failed summit was another indication that Russia, Iran and the Assad regime are not interested in a political solution, telling the council that those parties have "had every opportunity to demonstrate their credibility as constructive actors in Syria".

The threat of force comes after Russian Federation and Iran brushed off objections from the USA and Turkey to back a Syrian operation to wrest Idlib from some 70,000 opposition militants.

Both Turkey and the United Nations have warned of a massacre and humanitarian catastrophe involving tens of thousands of civilians in the event of a full-scale offensive.

It is unclear when the offensive will formally begin and what impact the fall of Idlib could have on Turkish-controlled Afrin and the northern provinces controlled by the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). They say they are targeting terrorist groups.

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Haley accused Russian Federation and Iran of having little interest in a political solution and called their actions those of "cowards interested in a bloody military conquest".

The offensive came just hours after more than 60 air raids killed at least four civilians in southern Idlib on Saturday.

"Russia, Iran and Assad are demolishing Idlib and asking us to call it peace", she said.

The offensive against rebel-held Idlib looms, and even though there is no real evidence that a chemical weapons attack might happen there, USA officials have been making near daily accusations that this will be the case, and offering ever-more-bellicose threats. The global community fears Assad and his allies are preparing to carry out a final assault on the province.

Regime leader Bashar al Assad has now set his sights on Idlib, and his forces have stepped up bombardment of the densely populated province since the beginning of the month.

The US Ambassador chairs the rotating UNSC presidency for September. "We're talking about a terrorist operation".

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