UN fears use of chemical weapons in Iblib

Geneva- The United Nations called on Russia, Iran and Turkey on Thursday to forestall a battle in Syria’s Idlib province which would affect millions of civilians and could see both sides using chlorine as a chemical weapon.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura told reporters that there was a high concentration of foreign fighters in Idlib, including an estimated 10,000 terrorists, but it would be better to set up humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians than rush into a battle which could turn prove to be a “perfect storm”. He offered Thursday to personally travel to Idlib to help ensure civilians can leave through a humanitarian corridor amid fears of full-scale military operations in the area.


“I am once again prepared … personally and physically to get involved myself, with the government cooperation this time… to ensure such a temporary corridor would be feasible and guaranteed for the people so that they can then return to their own places once this is over,” Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva.

Meanwhile, Russia announced major military drills in the Mediterranean Sea amid growing tensions over Idlib.

The Defence Ministry told Russian news agencies on Thursday that Russia will deploy 25 ships, including a missile cruiser, and 30 jets for the manoeuvres in the first week of September. The military says the drills will focus on anti-air and anti-submarine defence.

It says Moscow has notified international organizations of the drills, which may make it dangerous for aircraft and ships to operate in the area.

The drills were announced after Nato reported a Russian naval buildup in the Mediterranean.

Russia has provided crucial military support for Syrian regime forces, which are expected to mount an offensive in the northern Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in the country.

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