Turkey says attacks on Syria's Idlib must stop, calls for ceasefire

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Turkey is appealing for a ceasefire to allow for negotiations on the fate of armed groups in Idlib, Syria's last major rebel stronghold, but its call has been rejected by Russian Federation and Iran.

She told the Council: "If Assad, Russia and Iran continue down the path they are on, the consequences will be dire. Our position is rooted in the fact that the situation around Syria's Idlib governorate, where key forces of terrorists are now concentrated, is in focus of attention", the spokesman said. "We have seen it in use before, and we strongly advise that it does not happen in this enclosed area, where the population has, I think, nearly doubled by the influx of evacuees and IDPs from other parts of the country".

On Friday, the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey failed to agree during the Tehran summit on how to stave off military action on the northwestern province. The first such summit took place in Russia's Black Sea resort city of Sochi on November 22, 2017.

Turkish forces and Turkish-backed opposition fighters now control an area between Afrin and Jarabulus where Ankara had hoped to resettle the millions of refugees.

"An operation would result in a massacre", Erdogan says.

The UN chief spoke after Russian Federation and Iran clashed with Turkey at a summit last week on plans for military action to restore Syria's control over Idlib, where three million people live.

That has prompted an estimated 30,452 people to be displaced within Idlib and parts of adjacent Hama province between September 1 and 9, the UN's humanitarian coordination agency (OCHA) said Monday. They are believed to be holding them in the Safaa area.

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

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. "That's something we're monitoring very closely", OCHA spokesman David Swanson said. 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.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley issued a stern warning on the Syrian government, Russian Federation and Iran over military operations in Idlib. According to USA officials, the Russians have twice threatened to conduct military operations in the area over the last 10 days, prompting the US military to warn against any such move and deploy Marine reinforcements to the area.

More than 3 million people live in the rebel-held territory, almost half of them already displaced from fighting elsewhere in Syria.