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Syria: Government forces preparing to imminently launch Idlib offensive /update 1

Syrian government forces preparing to imminently launch phased offensive on Idlib province, according to local sources on August 29; UN Secretary-General warns of “humanitarian catastrophe” as result of potential full-scale assault

30 août 22h38 UTC
TIMEFRAME expected from 30/8/2018, 12h00 until 6/9/2018, 11h59 (Asia/Damascus). COUNTRY/REGION Idlib province
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Event

Syrian government forces are reportedly preparing to imminently launch a phased offensive on Idlib province and adjacent opposition-controlled areas as of Thursday, August 30. According to local sources on Wednesday, August 29, the impending assault would first target southern and western parts of opposition-controlled areas in northwestern Syria, including Jisr Al-Shughur and the Al-Ghab plain in the western reaches of opposition-held territory as well as the towns of Al-Latamenah, Khan Shaykhun, and Ma'arat Al-Nu'man in the southern part of rebel-held territory, before government forces would attempt to strike and advance on Idlib city.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned Wednesday that a "humanitarian catastrophe" might unfold if Syrian government forces were to launch a full-scale offensive on Idlib province. A Syrian government offensive on remaining rebel-held positions in the northwest of the country is likely in the coming days.

Context

Syrian government warplanes and helicopters launched airstrikes on parts of Aleppo, Hama, and Idlib provinces on August 10 - a move that presaged an impending offensive on the last major rebel-held areas in Syria located in the country's northwest. The government strikes marked the heaviest bombardment of the area in months. According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), dozens of civilians were killed by government airstrikes in Aleppo and Idlib provinces, including at least 41 people in Urem Al-Kubra (Aleppo province). The August 10 airstrikes came after regime and allied forces completed an offensive against opposition groups in the country's southwest and seized full control of the region on July 31. Also, on August 9, regime forces dropped leaflets over Idlib province, warning residents that the civil war will soon end and advising them to submit to government rule.

Today, the conflict in Syria involves many parties, including the Syrian government, the Russian government, the Iranian government, the Turkish government, a US-led coalition, and numerous armed groups on the ground (including the Islamic State) with competing goals.

Advice

Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.

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