Donald Trump warns Syria, Iran and Russia over Idlib offensive

Mr Trump praised Turkey for its work towards stopping the 'carnage' in which over 80,000 people have fled their homes

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media after participating in a video teleconference with members of the U.S. military at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., December 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

US President Donald Trump warned Iran, Syria and Russia against killing civilians in Syria’s Idlib province as thousands flee aerial bombardment and the approach of ground troops.

“Russia, Syria, and Iran are killing, or on their way to killing, thousands of innocent civilians in Idlib Province. Don’t do it!” Mr Trump said in a tweet on Thursday.

The Assad regime’s new offensive into north-west Syria’s Idlib region has resulted in dozens of civilian casualties and the displacement of at least 80,000 civilians, including 30,000 in the past week alone.

President Bashar Al Assad has vowed to recapture Idlib, the last significant region of Syria still under rebel control after almost nine years of civil war.

Mr Trump stopped short of threatening a US military intervention in the online missive, and credited Turkey for “working hard to stop this carnage”.

On Tuesday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed his concern about the escalation in Syria and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

“The secretary general is alarmed by the scale of the military operation and reported attacks on evacuation routes as civilians try to flee north to safety,” his spokesman said.

Mr Guterres reminded “all parties of their obligations to protect civilians and ensure freedom of movement”.

Mr Trump’s Twitter intervention came two days after Turkish and Russian delegations met to discuss developments in the region and work towards finding a solution to the crisis.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Tuesday that Russia had agreed to stop attacks in Idlib after the talks in Moscow.

Speaking in Ankara after a Cabinet meeting, Mr Kalin said Turkey had asked Russia to establish a ceasefire in the region.

He said that attacks in Idlib must stop “immediately”.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said more than 80,000 people were currently on the move from Idlib to Turkey because of the bombardments in the region.

He urged European nations to act, saying the bloc risks an influx of refugees as large as the 2015 migrant crisis unless it helps to stop the violence.