Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged the international community to prevent a Syrian government offensive in Syria’s Idlib, as the United Nations says it fears the century’s “worst humanitarian catastrophe” there.
In an article in the Wall Street Journal published on Tuesday, Erdogan echoed the UN’s concerns about a potential humanitarian crisis, adding that an attack on the last rebel-held province would affect Turkey, Europe and beyond.
“Not only innocent Syrians, but the entire world stands to pay the price [otherwise],” he said.
Erdogan, who met with his Russian and Iranian counterparts at a summit in Tehran last week, also said Russia and Iran had a responsibility to stop a potential humanitarian disaster in Idlib.
Rebel-held Idlib province and adjacent rural areas have been worn down by a succession of government victories in recent months.
President Bashar al-Assad has now set his sights on Idlib and his forces have stepped up bombardment of the densely populated province since the beginning of the month.
The UN’s warning on the issue came from the international organisation’s humanitarian coordination agency (OCHA) on Monday.
“We’re deeply concerned about this recent escalation of violence, which has resulted in the displacement of over 30,000 in the area. That’s something we’re monitoring very closely,” OCHA spokesman David Swanson told reporters.