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Turkey Warns Against Idlib Offensive Citing Humanitarian Concerns

As the possibility of a wide offensive by Syrian and Russian forces against the Idlib province in Syria escalates, neighbour Turkey has warned that such an initiative will be a humanitarian disaster that will lead to the deaths and displacement of many Syrian civilians. Idlib, the only province still held by rebels is the final hurdle that remains for Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad, against whom the civil war first raged in 2011.

Turkey’s warning comes in light of the failed diplomatic talks between Russia, Iran and Turkey in Tehran, talks that were meant to find a political solution for the crisis in Syria. Although all three nations reiterated the need to find a political solution to the civil war, both Iran and Russia rejected Turkey’s suggestion of imposing a ceasefire and an immediate end of hostilities.

In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Turkish President Erdogan stated that the upcoming offensive against rebel-held Idlib will turn it into a lake of blood and would carry with it several humanitarian and security risks for not just Turkey but, Europe and the world as well. “As the assault on Idlib looms, the international community must realize that the consequences of inaction are immense,” Erdogan wrote, even as preliminary bombardment of targets in Idlib by Syrian and Russian security forces has begun. Similarly, the United Nations too has warned against such an assault and has warned that the Idlib offensive would cause the biggest humanitarian disaster of the 21st century with a huge loss of life.

Turkey’s warning to the world comes as Turkey reels under the effect of a falling domestic currency and sanctions placed by the United States on it because of its detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson.  The country has also been weighed down by how thin its resources have been stretched since Syria’s civil war began.

Since 2011, Turkey has taken in 3.5 million refugees from Syria and it rightfully fears that the Idlib offensive would just force more and more refugees to flee into Turkish borders. “Millions will be coming to Turkey’s borders because they have nowhere to go. Turkey has filled its capacity to host refugees,” Erdogan said, opening the 7th of September talks.