The French envoy to the UN Security Council said on Friday, that any massacre in Syria’s Idlib would be the responsibility of the parties supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The UN Security Council meeting on Friday discussed the rebel-held Idlib province as the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey agreed during a summit in Tehran to work in a “spirit of cooperation” to stabilize the situation in Idlib.
The French envoy further added that there is still time to spare Idlib a military operation, calling on all parties involved to respect the ceasefire there.
For his part, linked by video-conference call from Geneva with the Security Council meeting, UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura called for evacuation corridors to be opened for civilians to flee a looming Syrian offensive in Idlibthat could lead to a “horrific and bloody battle.”
“People should be granted safe passage to places of their own choosing if they want to leave,” Staffan de Mistura told the Security Council meeting on the crisis in Idlib.
“We must allow the opening of sufficient number of protected voluntary evacuation routes for civilians in any direction: east, north and south,” he said.
De Mistura told the council that he was ready to make proposals on separating al-Qaeda-linked groups fighting in Idlib from other rebels in a bid to ensure the protection of civilians.
The UN envoy is scheduled to hold talks with the three guarantors - Russia, Turkey and Iran - next week in Geneva on the crisis in Idlib.
More than 350,000 people have been killed in Syria’s seven-year war, but UN diplomats fear the assault on Idlib could trigger one of the worst bloodbaths of the conflict.