Turkey reinforces military in Syria's Idlib after ceasefire call fails

Over 30,000 Displaced from Idlib Already Syria Faces Worst Catastrophe of Brutal Civil War			AREF TAMMAWI  AFP  Getty Images		11 Sep 2018

Senior rebel officials said Turkey had sent more military aid to rebels in and around the Idlib region since a summit meeting with Iran and Russian Federation last week failed to agree a deal to avert a government offensive into the area.

Protesters wave Syrian and Turkish flags as they attend a demonstration against the Syrian government offensive to Idlib, in the northwestern town of Maarat al-Numan, also known as al-Maarra, south of Idlib, Syria, Friday, Sept 14, 2018.

"President Erdogan will meet with Mr Putin on Monday", Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a televised press conference on Friday.

Erdogan met with the leaders of Iran and Russian Federation last week in Tehran to discuss Syria, but failed to win a ceasefire pledge.

The battle could bring an end to a seven-year-old uprising-turned-civil war, but at the cost of a humanitarian disaster on a scale yet unseen in the bloody conflict. It said a military offensive could trigger the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century.

"The rebels are our hope; Turks are our brothers; the terrorists are Bashar, Hezbollah and Russian Federation", read a banner carried by residents in the village of Kneiset Bani Omar, referring to Turkey which backs the opposition, and Lebanon's Hezbollah and Russian Federation that have joined the war along with Assad's forces.

"We are ready to cooperate with everyone in the fight against terror groups but the killing of civilians, women and children under the guise of fighting against terror is not correct", he said.

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The largest chunk of rebel-held territory left comprises the province of Idlib and surrounding areas, where an estimated three million people live.

It came amid rising worldwide concern that a looming Syrian government assault against rebels in the northwest province of Idlib would be a "bloodbath".

He stressed that Washington's extraterritorial restrictive measures against Russia, China and Iran directly affect German companies.

Turkey has appealed for a cease-fire in Idlib, which straddles its borders and is home to more than 3 million people.

Turkey also maintains a troop presence - hundreds of soldiers deployed at 12 observation posts in Idlib.

It said that this support aims to "use military force against the Nusra Front if it rejected to dissolve itself and leave the areas of moderate rebels", without specifying the new destination for those militants. "The operation is not canceled, but we have time".

"And we are also assisting in creating humanitarian corridors and safe havens for civilians", he added.

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