WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday warned Syria against launching an attack on the country’s last rebel stronghold with the help of Russia and Iran, saying the offensive could trigger a “human tragedy.”“President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province. The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy,” Trump tweeted.
“Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don’t let that happen!”
The United Nations and aid groups have warned that a full assault on Idlib could spark a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale not yet seen in Syria’s seven-year-old conflict.Syrian government forces are now massing around the northwestern province of Idlib, which is held by a complex array of rebels and violent extremist fighters, many of whom have been blacklisted as “terrorists” by world powers.Russia and Iran have insisted that extremist groups in Idlib must be defeated and are expected to back regime forces in any assault.
Since early 2017, Iran, fellow regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey have sponsored a negotiations track based in the Kazakh capital to tamp down hostilities in Syria.
Last year, they had designated Idlib as a “de-escalation” zone where violence would halt in preparation for a countrywide ceasefire.