An archive photo taken in Tamanah, Idlib, in 2018 (Picture: PA).
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to call off an expected attack on Idlib province.
Speaking to journalists at the UN, Reuters reported Guterres said such an attack would “unleash a humanitarian nightmare unlike any seen in the blood-soaked Syrian conflict… I understand that the present situation in Idlib is not sustainable and the presence of terrorist groups cannot be tolerated. But fighting terrorism does not absolve warring parties of their core obligations under international law.”
Idlib is the last remaining rebel-held part of Syria and the Assad regime has already begun to carry out airstrikes in conjunction with their Russian and Iranian allies.
Last week Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said during a visit to Damascus that, "terrorists must be purged" and Iran wanted to see the whole of Idlib province returned to government control.
UN opposition to the expected offensive is nothing new; the organisation fears that an attack will cause the death of thousands of civilians and lead to the displacement of 800,000 people.
The United States is also strongly opposed to an attack on Idlib, with President Trump previously tweeting that it would be a "grave humanitarian mistake":
Nikki Hayley, US Ambassador to the UN, stated yesterday that:
“Russia, Iran and Assad are demolishing Idlib and asking us to call it peace. But here’s the reality… It has failed to stop the violence or to promote a political solution.”
Rebels say the result of an attack will be bloodshed.
“We realise the extent of vengeance and massacres that will befall us if they get our heads,” Mustafa Sejari, a Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander, told Reuters.