United Nations war crimes team documents further Syrian govt. use of banned chlorine


German Foreign minister Heiko Maas met with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Berlin on Friday to discuss measures to avert the humanitarian crisis that would likely result if a looming bombing campaign in the Syrian city of Idlib goes ahead.

We will continue our contacts soon: "President Erdogan will discuss the situation in Syria with President Putin on Monday", the TV channel NTV quoted Cavusoglu as saying.

However last week Erdogan and Putin failed to agree on a ceasefire at a three-way summit in Tehran which also involved Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The 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.

Russian Federation and Iran are key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

On Monday, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, speaking to reporters in Geneva, said: "There needs to be ways of dealing with this problem that don't turn the next few months in Idlib into the worst humanitarian catastrophe, with the biggest loss of life in the 21st century". "We confirmed our support of the Nord Stream-2 project, which is of a commercial nature and its implementation will really strengthen the energy security of the European continent", Lavrov said.

United Nations agencies and relief organisations have warned repeatedly that such an assault could spark one of the worst humanitarian disasters of Syria's seven-year war.

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Moumtzis said the U.N. had shared the Global Positioning System coordinates of 235 protected sites in Idlib, including schools and hospitals, with Russia, Turkey and the United States in the hope they would not be targeted.

"And we are also assisting in creating humanitarian corridors and safe havens for civilians", he added.

As the Syrian army and allied forces have been preparing for one last battle against the rebels in Idlib province in northwestern Syria, the ultra-radical rebels seem to have one more chance to surrender.

The U.S. has pushed back, with Defence Secretary Jim Mattis saying this week that "right now we see zero evidence that the opposition has any chemical capability, notwithstanding what Russian Federation has been broadcasting repeatedly".

Ankara, which hosts some 3.5 million refugees, has said it could not take any more if an attack on Idlib drove a new surge of people towards its border.

Chlorine was dropped by government helicopters in Saraqeb in Idlib on 4 February, injuring at least 11 men, the report said, while women and children were injured in the 22 January and 1 February attacks on Douma. Maas emphasized that fact by stating: "If there's a political solution that leads to free elections ultimately, then we are ready to take responsibility for the reconstruction".