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France warns of 'new disaster' looming in Syria's Idlib

AFP  |  Paris 

French warned today that a new humanitarian disaster was looming in Syria, in the rebel-held region of Idlib, seen as the next possible target of the regime's fightback.

In an interview with weekly a day after the US, Britain and carried out strikes in Syria, Le Drian said: "There are 2 million people in now, including hundreds of thousands of Syrians evacuated from rebel towns recaptured by the regime."

"There is a risk of a new humanitarian disaster."

Held by an array of jihadists and rebels, province is the last in largely beyond government control.

Speaking in this week, a senior Iranian said he hoped would be the next area to be "liberated" by ally Bashar al-Assad, after the Syrian army's recapture of the Eastern Ghouta region near with Russian backing.

The scorched-earth battle for Eastern Ghouta wound up shortly after a killed over 40 people and which the West blamed on Assad's forces -- allegations Assad and flatly denied.

Le Drian said he hoped yesterday's strikes, aimed at punishing the regime over its alleged use of toxic gas, would convince to pressure Assad into negotiations on ending the seven-year war.

"We hope that understands... we must combine our efforts to promote a political process in that favours an end to the crisis.

"is ready to work towards this. Except that currently the one blocking the process is himself. It's up to Russia to put pressure on him," he said.

Le Drian said the first step would be "to begin with a ceasefire which is really respected this time." He was referring to a 30-day ceasefire called by the UN in February to facilitate the delivery of aid and medical evacuations, which was never really implemented.

Yesterday, the US, and Britain launched a new push at the UN for a ceasefire.

In a draft text seen by AFP they also called for a mechanism to -- and also ascribe blame for them -- and demanded that engage in stalled UN-led peace talks.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, April 15 2018. 16:30 IST