Russian Federation says Syria has right to chase rebels out of Idlib: agencies

Russian Federation says Syria has right to chase rebels out of Idlib: agencies

The UN envoy to Syria has warned of a "perfect storm" in north-west Syria if the government goes ahead with its threatened offensive against rebels.

United Nations officials estimate an offensive would trigger a wave of displacement that could uproot up to 800,000 people.

"We are conducting joint work with the Russians and Iranians on Idlib to avoid another Aleppo disaster", Erdoğan said during a Victory Day reception at the presidential palace in Ankara on August 30.

The majority of the refugees fled to countries in the region, including Turkey (3.5 million), Lebanon (976,000), Jordan (668,000), Iraq (249,000), and Egypt (130,000).

Russian Federation has provided crucial military support for Syrian government forces.

"I am once again prepared. personally and physically to get involved myself.to ensure such a temporary corridor would be feasible", Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva.

Idlib and areas surrounding it are the last major enclave held by rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a close Russian ally, and a source has told Reuters he is preparing a phased offensive to regain it.

There were still negotiations over the offensive going on between Russian Federation and Turkey, as well as with Iran which also supports Assad regime in the war, the source said.

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He said a full-scale military operation in Idlib could lead to a "humanitarian catastrophe".

This sentiment was echoed by de Mistura on Thursday, who called for humanitarian corridors to be opened in the province, and said he would travel there himself in order to secure them.

"We are concerned not just about a potential chemical weapons attack, but we are concerned about any kind of escalation of violence in Idlib that would put civilians and civilian infrastructure in Idlib at risk", she added.

Yet even Turkey - which once supported the group as it sought to topple Assad - is unlikely to put much skin in the game. He said he could travel to the area himself to help monitor an evacuation.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday the Syrian army has every right "to protect its sovereignty and to drive out, liquidate the terrorist threat on its territory".

"In the course of this event, the grouping will practice a set of tasks of anti-submarine warfare and anti-aircraft defense, maritime communications protection, countering piracy and rendering assistance to ships in distress, as well as practical rocket and artillery fire", the admiral said.

Twenty-five Russian warships and 30 aircraft are massing in the Mediterranean Sea ahead of "large-scale" military drills, due to start on Saturday, Russia's Tass news agency has reported.

The Syrian port of Tartous is critical for that Russian deployment.

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