Idlib offensive could spark 21st century's worst humanitarian catastrophe, United Nations says

Arab media highlights Erdoğan’s efforts for Idlib

According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, there is "no doubt" that Islamic militants with ties to Western intelligence agencies that are hostile to Assad's regime are planning a false-flag chemical weapons attack in Idlib province, the scene of fierce fighting between forces loyal to the Syrian regime and terrorist groups opposed to it.

"This would unleash a humanitarian nightmare unlike any seen in the blood-soaked Syrian conflict".

Syria's conflict has killed more than 350,000 people and forced millions more out of their homes, but the United Nations has warned a full-blown attack on Idlib could bring unprecedented suffering.

In a bid to avert an assault, the top three powerbrokers in Syria's war - Russia, Iran, and Turkey -agreed on Friday to work together on "stabilising" Idlib.

"We invite the global community to vocally and actively support our efforts to this end", Sinirlioğlu told the U.N. Security Council during a session on the Syrian province. Erdogan urged the global community to take action or face "security risks for Turkey, the rest of Europe and beyond".

"All members of the global community must understand their responsibilities as the assault on Idlib looms", Erdoğan wrote.

De Mistura will meet on Monday and Tuesday with the guarantor countries of Astana process - Turkey, Russia, and Iran.

The attack occurred late Monday in the rural Tulul al-Safa area of the province, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) southeast of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Turkish forces and Turkish-backed opposition fighters now control an area between Afrin and Jarabulus where Ankara had hoped to resettle the millions of refugees.

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Last week's summit in Tehran between the three sides did not produce any agreement, as Iran and Russian Federation rejected Turkey's call for a continued ceasefire in the rebel bastion.

But while Erdogan had also called for a truce, Putin said this would be pointless as it would not involve the Islamist militant groups that Russian Federation deems terrorists, and Rouhani said Syria must regain control over all its territory.

According to US officials who have cited intelligence reports, Syrian President Bashar al Assad has approved the use of chlorine gas in the upcoming military operations in Idlib, The Wall Street Journal reported September 9.

"He's been warned, and so we'll see if he's wised up", US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday.

"I can say we've been in consultation with the British and the French, who joined us in the second strike, and they also agree that another use of chemical weapons will result in a much stronger response", Bolton said.

Real chemicals would be used to make the footage appear more authentic and also to provide samples of allegedly contaminated soil from the scene, the ministry said.

"A staged provocation of so-called "chemical weapons" used by the Syrian army against civilians is now being filmed in Jisr al-Shughur", the ministry said in a statement carried by Russian news wires Tuesday. "That's something we're monitoring very closely", OCHA spokesman David Swanson said.

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

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