United Nations: 30,000 displaced in Syria ahead of planned Idlib offensive

Medical facility in Hass is damaged in an airstrike

Medical facility in Hass is damaged in an airstrike

Britain and France backed the call for a ceasefire, recalling that these had been agreed under arrangements for a "de-escalation zone" in Idlib that were overseen by Russia, Iran and Turkey.

Idlib, which straddles the Turkish border, is mostly under the control of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) - a battle-hardened umbrella group of jihadists led by Al-Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate.

As Russia continues to bombard the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib from the skies, in support of the country's ruling government's campaign to retake territory, Washington is warning of retaliatory strikes. But 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.

Russian Federation called for the council meeting to brief members on a summit it held with Iran and Turkey on military plans to re-take Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.

Iran, Russia and Turkey a year ago set up the Astana process, a negotiating track to end Syria's war that has largely eclipsed the UN-led peace process.

OCHA spokesman David Swanson told Reuters that as of Sunday, 30,542 people had been displaced from northwest Syria, moving to different areas across Idlib.

"Russia, Iran and Assad are demolishing Idlib and asking us to call it peace", she 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", Lowcock told reporters.

Turkey is appealing for a ceasefire to allow for negotiations on the fate of armed groups in Idlib, Syria's last major rebel stronghold, but its call has been rejected by Russian Federation and Iran.

During his remarks, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia repeated the claim that "Syria has no chemical weapons", and said it would be folly on a humanitarian and political basis for the Assad regime to use chemical weapons, as it would prompt the U.S. and others to attack inside Syria.

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

Rebel militants, the Kremlin says, have already delivered the toxic substances, including chlorine, to the town of Jisr Al Shughour in Idlib.

Underscoring the necessity of preventing civilian casualties, he further called on Russia, Iran, the US, France and the United Kingdom as well as all other partners and actors in Syria to work together and find a peaceful solution.

"In this sense, a military operation in Idlib would only play into the hands of terrorists", he said.

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