Erdogan to meet Putin again in bid to avert attack on Idlib

Newly displaced Syrians arrive to a refugee camp in Atimah village Idlib province Syria

Senior rebel officials said Turkey had sent more military aid to rebels in and around the Idlib region since a summit meeting with Iran and Russian Federation last week failed to agree a deal to avert a government offensive into the area.

Cavusoglu on Friday said Turkey was ready to cooperate with anyone in the fight against terror groups in Syria, but criticised the Damascus regime for using the presence of jihadists groups to legitimise a possible operation in Idlib.

Hours before the minister was due to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Berlin, Maas appeared to answer a request made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in August for Europe to step up in reconstructing Syria.

The presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey met last week in Tehran to consider alternatives, but failed to reach a consensus.

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Located near the Turkish border, Idlib is home to almost two million internally displaced people, who fled from other cities following attacks by the regime forces.

On Monday, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, speaking to reporters in Geneva, 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". We will continue our efforts in worldwide platforms as well. "But killing everyone - civilians, women, children - like this in the name of fighting terrorist organizations is not right and is not humane", he said on a visit to Pakistan.

Any attack on Syria's Idlib province is going to be "dealt with", United States ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley warned, as Washington seeks to stop the Russian-backed Syrian army from retaking the last remaining jihadist stronghold.

Turkey, already hosting 3.5 million Syrians, says it can not take in another wave of refugees.

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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.

An estimated 50,000 rebels, including more than 10,000 hard-core militants and al-Qaida-linked fighters, are cornered in Idlib. The Turkish army controls the areas next to its border and has set up 12 military observation posts in the rest of the region. "We have seen it in use before, and we strongly advise that it does not happen in this enclosed area, where the population has, I think, nearly doubled by the influx of evacuees and IDPs from other parts of the country".

"And we are also assisting in creating humanitarian corridors and safe havens for civilians", he added.

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