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Turkey Says Attacks On Syria's Idlib Must Stop, As UN Fears Century’s ‘Worst Humanitarian Catastrophe'

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (file photo)

Air and ground attacks on Syria's Idlib Province must stop "immediately" and a cease-fire must be established in the rebel-held area, Turkish television quoted the country's defense minister as saying.

The broadcaster NTV quoted Hulusi Akar as making the comments on September 10, after Russia and Iran rejected Turkey's call for a cease-fire in Idlib, the rebels’ remaining major stronghold in Syria.

Russian and Syrian warplanes resumed their bombing campaign in northwest Syria last week as government forces are preparing a major assault to recover Idlib and adjacent areas from the rebels.

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that more than 30,000 people have fled their homes since the bombardments resumed.

"Our top line message is 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 of the 21st century," OCHA head Mark Lowcock said on September 10.

Moscow and Tehran have given the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's crucial support throughout the war, which began with a government crackdown on protesters in March 2011. Turkey is backing rebel groups and has troops in the country’s north.

The 7 1/2-year war has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced millions.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters