Turkey Masses Troops on Syrian Border, Braces for New Refugees

Intense air raids reported on edge of Syria's rebel-held Idlib

At least two hospitals and two centers running rescue operations for wounded people were put out of service by shelling and air strikes, according to the Britain-based Observatory and the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations, which backs medical centers in Syria.

On Friday, the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey failed to agree during the Tehran summit on how to stave off military action on the northwestern province.

Turkey has renewed calls for global backing for a ceasefire in Idlib, telling the United Nations security council that an all-out assault on Syria's rebel-held province would trigger a huge wave of refugees and could threaten Europe.

Now Assad, with the help of his Russian and Iranian allies, is poised for an assault on the rebels' last swath of territory, the northwest Syrian province of Idlib.

President Donald Trump's national security adviser warned the Syrian government against using chemical weapons in the looming battle for Idlib Province, the last remaining rebel stronghold populated by more than 2 million people.

"One of the major results of the Teheran summit is that its participants unanimously recognized the efficiency and topicality of the Astana format", he said.

Yesterday, the United Nations warned that a large-scale military operation against Idlib could create "the worst humanitarian catastrophe with the biggest loss of life in the 21st century". "That's something we're monitoring very closely", OCHA spokesman David Swanson said. Beyond the risky prospect that the strikes could escalate the conflict (particularly given the Russian and Iranian presence in the country), they would also make it more hard for the United States and Russia to cooperate on a shared plan in Syria.

Violence has displaced 30,000 people in Idlib and the adjacent province of Hama this month alone.

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"We go wherever it's safe", said the man in his 30s.

Trump has already launched two retaliatory strikes against Syria since taking office in response to chemical attacks that killed civilians, the second of which was done in conjunction with British and French forces.

Idlib is largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance led by Al-Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate, as well as rival rebels.

More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's civil war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-Assad protests.

The local council of Morek, a town that serves as a crossing between Hama and Idlib, sent an urgent appeal, asking Turkey for a quick solution.

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.

Hundreds of civilians have fled villages near the front line in Syria's Idlib province fearing an imminent regime assault on the country's last major opposition and rebel bastion, a monitor said.

He called instead for an "international counterterrorism operation" in cooperation with Turkish-backed opposition factions to weed out groups like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham that have been blacklisted by the worldwide community.

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