UN seeks to prevent bloodbath, displacement in Syria's Idlib province

Syria's warring parties and regional powers must avoid an escalation of the conflict in the north-west of the country that has become a haven for hundreds of thousands of displaced people from other Syrian regions, UN envoy Jan Egeland said on Thursday.

"The war cannot be allowed to go to Idlib," the UN aid envoy for Syria told reporters in Geneva.
For months, the Syrian army has been preparing a wide-scale offensive on Idlib. With the liberation of most areas in southern Syria by government troops this month, the province has become one of the last anti-government strongholds in Syria.
"It's a place filled to the brim with refugees and internally displaced people," he said about Idlib, warning that violence could trigger a flow of refugees across the Turkish border.
UN agencies have started preparing for a wave of mass displacement, but even now, humanitarian groups in the region are overwhelmed, according to Egeland.
He called for local or regional truces like the ones that have been reached elsewhere in Syria.
Egeland especially asked for the help of Russia, Turkey and Iran, who have influence on the Syrian government, as well as Western and Arab Gulf countries, who have clout with rebel groups.
"This area is screaming for diplomatic solutions," the Norwegian UN diplomat said.
Egeland acknowledged that there are thousands of armed militants in the area, including terrorists, but he stressed that they are outnumbered by far by civilians whose lives must be protected.

Thursday, August 9th 2018

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