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Syrian forces pound rebel-held areas in country's northwest

14 September 2018

As reported by BBC News Turkey, he said Syria is open to dialogue with Kurdish groups, adding, "Our Kurdish brothers are a part of Syria and citizens of this country".

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.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in an article in the Wall Street Journal that a Syrian government offensive in Idlib would cause humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, Europe and beyond.

The Syrian government committed war crimes by using chlorine in three attacks against civilians in 2018, United Nations investigators said in a report released Wednesday.

The Turkish army has also deployed in the last week more troops and heavy weaponary to 12 positions in the Idlib region that observe a "de-escalation zone" agreed with Iran and Russian Federation. "That's something we're monitoring very closely", OCHA spokesman David Swanson told reporters.

Roughly half of the displaced are staying in camps, Dujarric said.

"With all our generosity, we have gone to extraordinary lengths to alleviate suffering of the Syrian people, hosting some 3.5 million refugees, more than any other country in the world".

"We're not talking about a military offensive", the Russian ambassador said.

On Monday, its humanitarian chief made an urgent appeal.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Syria and its backers Tuesday against launching a full-scale offensive in Idlib, saying the rebel-held province "must not be transformed into a bloodbath".

The moderate opposition, along with the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, now share control of Idlib's de-escalation zone, in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited. If (Syrian President Bashar) Assad, Russia, and Iran continue down the path they are on, the consequences will be dire.

At least two hospitals and two centres running rescue operations for wounded people were put out of service by shelling and air strikes, according to the Britain-based Observatory and the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations, which backs medical centres in Syria.

High-ranking Russian diplomats have begun consultations with United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on the formation of a Syrian constitutional committee in Geneva.

Idlib's main towns and cities are under the sway of jihadists linked to al Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, though they are outnumbered by Turkey-backed FSA fighters grouped under "The National Front for Liberation".

Turkey, which now hosts some 3.5 million refugees, has also said that it could not accommodate any more migrants if an attack on Idlib caused a new surge of refugees towards its border.

Syrian forces pound rebel-held areas in country's northwest