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U.S. talks Syria airstrikes with UK, France

14 September 2018

The intensive strikes resumed on Sunday, according to residents and rescuers, as Damascus stepped up its assault on the area after a Russian-Iranian-Turkish summit failed to agree on a ceasefire.

Tehran and Moscow have helped Assad turn the course of the war against an array of opponents ranging from Western-backed rebels to the Islamist militants, while Turkey is a leading opposition supporter and also has troops in the country.

The United Nations warned of a potential for the "worst humanitarian catastrophe" of the century in Syria as thousands were internally displaced in the rebel-held enclave of Idlib.

Anas Diab, a civil defense member, was injured while capturing the video and pleaded for help from others around him when another strike hit the area near him.

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.

"If Assad, Russia and Iran continue down the path they are on, the consequences will be dire", she said. "We can not leave the Syrian people to the mercy of Bashar Assad", Erdogan wrote in the WSJ.

The Turkish leader also criticized Assad's bid to legitimize the fight in Idlib as a counter-terrorism operation.

A former al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, is believed to control more than half of Idlib, and elements in the group explained that it includes hundreds of Europeans, including dozens of British, Dutch and Germans.

Erdogan acknowledged that groups such as HTS "remain active in this area" but insisted that these fighters "account for a fraction of Idlib's population".

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

Complicating matters, the Turkish armed forces also have several outposts in Idlib in support of rebel groups.

For weeks, regime troops backed by Russian Federation and Iran have massed around Idlib's periphery, with deadly air strikes, shelling, and barrel bombs falling with increased intensity in recent days. On September 20, the UN envoy is expected to present a report about developments concerning the Syrian political process to the United Nations Security Council.

It is not the first time France has warned Assad, Russia or Iran that their aggression could amount to war crimes.

"More than two million of them came from other areas of Syria, some from Ghouta, some from Aleppo. And no number of Security Council meetings will ever change that", said UN Representative Nikki Haley at a UNSC meeting on Tuesday. 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.

U.S. talks Syria airstrikes with UK, France