Istanbul, Sep 14 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next week to discuss the situation in Idlib, the last rebel-held province in Syria.
President Erdogan of Turkey had been hoping to persuade President Putin of Russian Federation and President Rouhani of Iran, both of whom are backing Assad in the warzone, to agree to a ceasefire to spare the estimated three million people...
Turkey deployed hundreds of its soldiers to 12 observation posts that ring Idlib, following a de-escalation agreement reached with Russian Federation and Iran a year ago to freeze the lines of the conflict, effectively placing Ankara as a protector of the province.
An estimated 3 million people live in Idlib, almost half of them having arrived there after being displaced by fighting elsewhere in Syria.
Although it opened its doors to Syrians escaping the fighting in the early years of the conflict, Turkey has since built a wall along its 900 km (560 mile) border with Syria.
The Russian foreign minister also raised the possibility of rebels using chemical weapons against government troops in Idlib as grounds for an offensive but added: "What is being presented at the moment as the beginning of a Russian-backed offensive by Syrian forces is not a faithful representation of the facts".
For Russia and Iran, recapturing Idlib would deal a decisive defeat to the opposition and stamp out the last remains of the rebellion against Assad that began in 2011.
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Idlib and surrounding areas are home to almost 3 million people, half of them already displaced by violence in different parts of Syria.
In the case of an offensive, the United Nations estimates almost 700,000 will be displaced inside Idlib, and about 100,000 to head to nearby government-held areas.
"The safety and protection of some 2.9mn civilians residing in Idlib and surrounding areas is at risk".
German Foreign Minister Maas warned that a large-scale military offensive by the Syrian regime would lead to a humanitarian disaster in Idlib, which is home to more than 3 million civilians. A senior security source said the army has reinforced 12 Turkish military posts inside Idlib itself.
So in light of the recent development, the anticipated operation is believed to have been pushed back to a later time this month to give a chance for the efforts to separate the terror groups from other rebel factions, according to Maher Ihsan, a Syrian analyst.
In the provincial capital, Idlib city, and in towns including Kafranbel, Dana, Azaz, Maaret al-Numan and al-Bab, demonstrators filled the streets after noon prayers and chanted against Assad, raising the tri-color green, white and black flag that has become the banner of Syria's 2011 uprising, activists said.