United States warns new Syrian chemical strikes will get 'much stronger response'


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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. "That's something we're monitoring very closely", said David Swanson of the UN's humanitarian coordination agency (OCHA) in Amman.

The council will meet at Russia´s request at 11:00 am (1500 GMT) to hear the briefing as Syrian forces, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, are preparing for an all-out military assault on the rebel-held province.

Damascus, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, has been preparing a major assault to recover Idlib and adjacent areas of northwest Syria from rebels.

Syrian and Russian aircraft have pounded Idlib province over the past few days as the government kicked off an offensive to retake the area after a summit in Iran of key stakeholders failed to bring about a settlement.

The rebel-held region of Idlib and adjacent areas are home to nearly three million people, half of whom have been displaced from other areas in the country, according to the UN.

Turkey, which now hosts some 3.5 million refugees, has also said that it could not accommodate any more migrants if an attack on Idlib caused a new surge of refugees toward its border.

More than 30,000 people have been displaced within rebel-held northwest Syria by government and allied bombardment which began last week, a United Nations official said.

Stating that the Syrian regime was trying to legitimize its possible attack on the pretext of counterterrorism, Erdogan said no country would appreciate the need to combat terrorism better than Turkey, as it has been the target of terrorist attacks since the beginning of the Syrian conflict.

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He said 47 percent of those displaced have moved to camps, 29 percent are staying with families, 14 percent have settled in informal camps and 10 percent are in rented accommodation.

Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov, for his part, said Moscow had "irrefutable information" that Syrian rebels were planning a "provocation" in Idlib province to justify Western intervention.

But half the people here have already fled from other parts of Syria and they have nowhere left to go.

Syria has firmly denied claims that it's behind the attacks and instead blamed them on militant groups and foreign agents who are in Syria as aid workers.

Syrian civil defense members search near a burned vehicle in Hass after an airstrike southern Idlib province on September 8, 2018.

Moscow has also warned that terrorists are getting prepared to stage another chemical attack in Idlib to give USA enough evidence to attack.

Russian Federation has said it wants all militants to be pushed out of Idlib and that it avoids civilians and targets only radical al Qaeda-inspired groups.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 68 air raids and 19 barrel bombs dropped Saturday on several of towns and villages in southwestern Idlib and Hama province.

The talks in Geneva under United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura come amid concerns that he and other United Nations officials have expressed about a looming battle for northern Idlib province - the last remaining rebel stronghold in Syria after 7 1/2 years of war that is now home to some 3 million civilians. Turkey has troops and 12 observations points that circle Idlib. The Turkish defence minister Hulusi Akar demanded an end to the attacks, and again called for a ceasefire.