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Hospitals bombed as Idlib families flee regime offensive

Hospitals bombed as Idlib families flee regime offensive”

"President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province". The majority of the displaced have headed close to the border with Turkey.

On Monday, on the main highway running across the province, men on motorbikes headed north with their children on foot, herding dozens of sheep.

"They hit with four rockets so we escaped with our flock", he said.

"The new policy is we're no longer pulling out by the end of the year", Jeffrey said, according to the Washington Post. "Every day, I need water, hay and bran to feed them".

He said that the United Nations had plans to reach up to 800,000 people who might be displaced, and were bracing for around 100,000 people to move into government-held areas and some 700,000 to initially flee within Idlib. Russian Federation and Iran backed a military offensive to reclaim the last major rebel-held area of Syria, while Turkey called for a ceasefire to prevent mass casualties among the province's estimated 3.5 million population.

Idlib is one of the de-escalation areas designated in the Astana talks between Turkey and the regime's allies Russian Federation and Iran and has been turned into a shelter for opposition fighters and their families who were evacuated from different parts of the war-torn country.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 68 air raids and 19 barrel bombs dropped Saturday on several of towns and villages in southwestern Idlib and Hama province.

But there are deep fears that an attempt to reclaim Idlib could touch off major bloodshed and a humanitarian crisis among the area's 3 million civilians, half of them displaced from elsewhere in Syria.

He said: "Our top line message is there needs to be ways of dealing with this problem that doesn't turn the next few months in Idlib into the worst humanitarian catastrophe, with the biggest loss of life of the 21st century".

The rebel-held region of Idlib and adjacent areas are home to nearly three million people, half of whom have been displaced from other areas in the country, according to the UN.

More than half of Idlib is held by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an alliance led by Syria's former al-Qaeda affiliate, while most of the rest is held by rival rebels.

Its population ballooned as the regime chalked up a series of victories across the country, reaching deals that saw tens of thousands of rebels and civilians bussed into Idlib.

Ankara's call for a ceasefire was rejected by Russian Federation and Iran who both back the Syrian government, prompting Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to warn of a Turkish intervention if there is a bloodbath.

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.

Moscow wants to keep rebels from using weaponised drones against Russian warplanes positioned nearby.

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 toward its border.



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