pcloudy.png
Wednesday July 17th, 2019 1:11PM

Activists: Turkey beefing up its troops in Syria's Idlib

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BEIRUT (AP) — Turkey sent in military reinforcements Thursday to beef up its positions inside Syria's last rebel bastion Idlib, activists reported, even as the Turkish defense minister said Ankara is still trying with Russia and Iran to prevent a humanitarian tragedy in the case of a threatened Syrian government offensive.

Hulusi Akar, the Turkish defense minister, said a military operation in the densely populated rebel enclave would drag the already problematic region toward disaster. He spoke during a meeting with foreign ambassadors late Wednesday, according to the state-run Turkish Anadolu Agency.

"We are working with Russia, Iran and other allies to bring peace and stability and to stop a humanitarian tragedy," Akar said, according to Anadolu.

The United Nations said that in the first 12 days of September, over 30,000 have been internally displaced by an intense aerial bombing campaign. Most of the displaced headed toward the border with Turkey, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said, packing already overcrowded camps there. Nearly half of Idlib's 3 million are already displaced by conflict in other parts of Syria.

In the case of an offensive, the U.N. estimates nearly 700,000 will be displaced inside Idlib, and about 100,000 to head to nearby government-held areas. An emergency plan is in place and the U.N. has asked donors for $311 million to cover those expected to be in need, said OCHA regional humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis.

"We hope it won't happen ... we hope it will not be needed," Moumtzis, speaking in Geneva, said.

The Turkish deployment comes amid a lull in a concerted government and Russian aerial bombing campaign on the southern edge of Idlib.

Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday a Turkish convoy entered from Kfar Lusin crossing in northern Idlib, heading to some of the 12 Turkish observations points that ring Idlib. A video shot by activists of the monitoring group Central Station for Turkish Intervention showed armored and gun-mounted vehicles and tanks driving through an Idlib road. Both said the convoy was heading to two different observation points, one south of Idlib and another in the center. But the Turkish military did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Turkey deployed hundreds of its soldiers to 12 observation posts that ring Idlib, following a de-escalation agreement reached with Russia and Iran last year to freeze the lines of the conflict, effectively placing Ankara as a protector of the province.

The rebels have held Idlib province since 2015 but a government offensive captured chunks on the eastern flanks of the province last year before Turkey began deploying its observation points and halting the advances.

In recent weeks, Syrian government forces have been massing to the south and southwest of the province, and in recent days launched an intense aerial bombing campaign targeting rebel positions, three medical centers and rescue workers last week.

But the bombing has let up in the last 24 hours.

Turkey has appealed for a cease-fire in Idlib, which straddles its borders and is home to more than 3 million people. It is seeking to gain time to support its efforts, it said, to separate radical militants from moderate opposition groups it backs.

Turkey has appealed for international support to its efforts to halt an offensive.

The U.S. warned Russia Wednesday that it will bear responsibility for the resulting humanitarian crisis in Syria if the Moscow-backed Syrian military attacks Idlib.

Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, said the U.S. and its allies are concerned about the deadly consequences of such an offensive.

Pahon said the U.S. questions the continued presence of more than a dozen Russian warships off of Syrian Mediterranean coast, adding the ships must operate safely and abide by international law.

----------------

Associated Press Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey and Jamey Keaton in Geneva contributed to this report

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
World stocks rise on report of US-China trade talks
World stocks are climbing on a report that the U.S. has proposed a new round of trade negotiations with China before going ahead with plans to slap tariffs on $200 billion or more in Chinese goods
5:19AM ( 31 minutes ago )
WHAT'S HAPPENING: Hurricane Florence looms over East Coast
Hurricane Florence is being called a once-in-a-lifetime storm for threatening to cause historic flooding, blow catastrophic winds and idle for days over the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic
5:17AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Court: British surveillance violates European law
Europe's human rights court has handed a partial victory to civil rights groups challenging the legality of government surveillance programs
5:13AM ( 36 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
UK to pay 'substantially' less to EU in event of no deal
Britain is warning the European Union that it will only make its full divorce payment if there is a Brexit deal.
4:29AM ( 1 hour ago )
Putin inspects war games billed as Russia's biggest-ever
Russian President Vladimir Putin has inspected military drills in eastern Siberia, billed as the largest war games Russia has ever had
3:39AM ( 2 hours ago )
Germany says it has reached migration deal with Italy
Germany's interior minister says Berlin has reached a deal with Italy for that country to take back migrants who show up at the German-Austrian border after previously applying for asylum there
3:37AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP World News
World stocks rise on report of US-China trade talks
World stocks are climbing on a report that the U.S. has proposed a new round of trade negotiations with China before going ahead with plans to slap tariffs on $200 billion or more in Chinese goods
5:19AM ( 31 minutes ago )
WHAT'S HAPPENING: Hurricane Florence looms over East Coast
Hurricane Florence is being called a once-in-a-lifetime storm for threatening to cause historic flooding, blow catastrophic winds and idle for days over the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic
5:17AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Court: British surveillance violates European law
Europe's human rights court has handed a partial victory to civil rights groups challenging the legality of government surveillance programs
5:13AM ( 37 minutes ago )
China says Washington asks to resume talks on tariff fight
China says Washington has asked to resume negotiations on their worsening tariff dispute
5:10AM ( 39 minutes ago )
German spy chief's future creates new strains in government
The future of Germany's domestic intelligence chief is creating new strains in Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government following much-criticized comments about recent far-right protests in the eastern city of Chemnitz
5:02AM ( 48 minutes ago )