Wednesday, 26 September, 2018


30000 displaced in Syria's Idlib as United Nations fears century's 'worst' crisis

Ceasefire talks fail as airstrikes target last rebel-held region in Syria Syrians flee Idlib offensive
Bennie Garza | 11 September, 2018, 09:29

What vital US interest is imperiled in Idlib, or in ensuring that all Iranian forces and Shiite allies are removed, or that a "non-threatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the global community" is established in Damascus?

The raids reportedly wounded five rebels in Latamneh and knocked the village's underground hospital out of action, just a day after strikes damaged a similar health facility in Idlib's southern town of Hass, the Observatory said.

Fears of a massacre have been fueled by new USA intelligence indicating Mr. Assad has cleared the way for the military to use chlorine gas in any offensive, US officials said.

What Trump seems to be signaling, the Post demanding, and Jeffrey suggesting, is that, rather than allow a bloody battle for Idlib province to play out, the United States should engage Russian and Syrian forces militarily and force them to back off.

Since 2015, Idlib has been home to a complex array of anti-regime forces: secular rebels, Islamists, Syrian jihadists with ties to Al-Qaeda - and their foreign counterparts.

The territory is home to some three million civilians, with almost half already displaced by fighting elsewhere. Assad ignored the warning, and Obama didn't react militarily.

Airstrikes were launched by the US, Britain and France in April after the last chemical weapons attack which the regime denied.

But on Thursday, James Jeffrey, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's newly appointed special envoy to Syria, indicated that the president has agreed to a new plan: us forces will remain in the country to ensure not just the defeat of the Islamic State but also the departure of all Iranian forces.

Therefore, unless Assad will simply hand Idlib over to adjoining Turkey, there will be war between the US and Russian Federation over Idlib. And Turkey, the USA and France have threatened to retaliate against Syria, though the countries didn't say exactly what could lead to a military response.

Can the U.S.do more than denounce Assad? Trump called any gas attack a potential "grave humanitarian mistake". Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.

Bolton's words echo his earlier warnings in August that the United States would respond "very strongly" if Assad's forces were to use chemical weapons in a bit to retake Idlib.

"For Syrians who are on the receiving end, whether chemical weapons or conventional weapons, the end result is likely to be the same."
Washington's reticence let Russian President Vladimir Putin assert the Kremlin's influence over the conflict.

The Russian Ministry of Defense warned on Sunday that terrorist groups, including Jabhat Al-Nusra and the infamous White Helmets, are preparing to stage a chemical attack to give the Western coalition a pretext to strike Assad again. "To ensure that we succeed, the rest of the world must set aside narrow self-interest and throw its weight behind a political solution", he concluded.

"Arguably removing USA force presence [in northeast Syria] allows the Assad regime to retake that territory, and of course, who comes with them?"

Nicholas Heras, a researcher at the Centre for New American Security, said the spike in Russian raids on Saturday aimed to put pressure on Turkey to agree to a deal for a regime takeover of Idlib.

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