Erdogan warns attack on Idlib will send Syrian refugees heading to Europe

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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. "We are not talking about a military operation".

Analysts said Erdogan failed at the summit to achieve his aim, and his comments appear to indicate growing frustration in Turkey that Iran and Russian Federation are not reining in Assad.

FILE PHOTO: A Turkish military armoured vehicle guards on the border line located opposite the Syrian town of Atimah, Idlib province, in this picture taken from Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey October 10, 2017.

The UN has said as many as 800,000 people could be displaced by a regime assault on Idlib and surrounding areas.

The area is Syria's last major stronghold of active opposition to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

Britain and France backed the call for a ceasefire, recalling that these had been agreed under arrangements for a "de-escalation zone" in Idlib that were overseen by Russia, Iran and Turkey.

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"I also want to reiterate what I said last week to the Assad regime and anyone else contemplating the use of chemical weapons in Syria".

"We can not allow terrorists to hold hostage and use hundreds of thousands of people of Idlib as human shields", said the Russian ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia.

CNN reported last week that U.S. officials have grown anxious that an assault on Idlib could involve the use of chemical weapons if the rebels are able to slow regime advances.

"If Assad, Russia and Iran continue down the path they are on, the consequences will be dire", she said.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Erdogan said the West had an "obligation to stop the next bloodshed" but that regime allies Moscow and Tehran were "likewise responsible for stopping this humanitarian disaster".

And perhaps more alarming is that the report details that Trump is undecided over whether new retaliatory strikes could entail expanding the attack to hit Assad allies Russian Federation and Iran this time around.

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The United Nations warned Monday that a large-scale military operation against the rebel-held province could create "the worst humanitarian catastrophe with the biggest loss of life in the 21st century".

In turn, Russia's UN Envoy Vasily Nebenzya told the UNSC that foreign-backed Idlib terrorists should not be shielded and allowed to hold civilians hostage.

Idlib province and adjacent rural areas form the largest piece of territory still held by Syria's beleaguered opposition fighters, worn down by a succession of regime victories in recent months.

The Pentagon is crafting military options, but Mr. Trump hasn't decided what exactly would trigger a military response or whether the U.S. would target Russian or Iranian military forces aiding Mr. Assad in Syria, U.S. officials said. "That's something we're monitoring very closely", OCHA spokesman David Swanson told AFP.

Many made a dash for Syria's northern border with Turkey, with just under half seeking refuge in displacement camps and others living with local families or renting apartments.

"They also include people from other parts of Syria who were transferred to Idlib, people from Homs, Aleppo, who were transferred to this province, bussed there, in evacuation deals", she said.

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