11 UN council members warn of Idlib catastrophe

Orient Net 2019-05-11 07:50:00

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Britain, France, the United States and eight other countries at the UN Security Council warned Friday (May 10) of a potential humanitarian catastrophe from an all-out assault in Syria's Idlib, in a statement opposed by Russia.

Assad regime militias and their Russian allies have stepped up air strikes and shelling in the opposition-controlled Idlib since late April.

"We express our deep concern of a potential humanitarian catastrophe in the event of a full-scale military operation in Idlib zone," Belgian Ambassador Marc Pesteen told reporters after a closed-door meeting.

Diplomats said Russia, supported by China, opposed the statement during the meeting.

They called on all warring sides to protect civilians and abide by the ceasefire arrangements reached by Turkey, Iranian regime and Russia in September 2018.

Since April 29, 12 health facilities including two major hospitals have been hit in northwest Syria, according to the World Health Organization.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said he feared a possible repeat of the bloody battle that devastated Aleppo in 2016.

"A new Aleppo must at all cost be prevented in Idlib," said Delattre ahead of the meeting.

Diplomats said the meeting was to draw attention to the crisis and expected Russia to oppose any joint statement. Russia has used its veto power 12 times at the council to block action against its ally in Damascus.

The council members said they condemned the loss of civilian lives and were alarmed by the displacement of over 150,000 people as well as the targeting of hospitals and schools.

Based on AFP