On February 25th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Syrian government wouldn’t achieve any military victory in Idlib, and that the offensive only increased the risk of a conflict with Turkey.
Pompeo began with “briefly” addressing the situation in Idlib, and the “Syrian regime’s brutal operation”, “cynically” backed by Moscow and Tehran.
He also alleged that more than 3 million people were displaced in Idlib, which is 3 times as much as the typical Turkish claim of 1 million.
“Assad regime’s brutal new aggressions cynically backed by Moscow and Tehran imperils now more than 3 million displaced persons including as we have tragically seen young people,” Pompeo told reporters at a news conference.
“As we have said many times before, the regime will not be able to obtain military victory. The regime’s offensive only heightens the risk of conflict with our NATO ally Turkey,” he said.
According to Pompeo, the solution in Syria is a “permanent ceasefire and UN-led negotiations under UN Security Council resolution 2254” and the Trump administration is “working together with Turkey on seeing what we can do together.”
There could also potentially be another way to solve the crisis, such as Turkey not continuously supplying militants “moderate opposition” with equipment and not successively deploying troops at positions which are not observation posts under the Sochi Agreement, however, the time for that has passed and Ankara has vested too much into denying that there are terrorists in Idlib, and it is simply civilians and “pan-democrats” fighting for their human rights, by way of “humanitarian tools” such as ATGMs, armored vehicles and automatic rifles.
The State Department, in an emailed response to questions from Al-Monitor, reiterated Pompeo’s call for a cease-fire, and condemnation of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its Russian and Iranian backers, and expressed solidarity with the Turkish government.
“We join the UN in calling for an immediate cease-fire and for indiscriminate violence against the people of northwest Syria by the Assad regime, Russian, and Iranian forces to stop,” a State Department spokesperson said in an email.
“The Syrian people are bearing the burden of Assad’s push for victory and paying a terrible and deadly price,” the spokesman continued, noting that more than 80% of the almost million people who have fled to date are women and children. “Babies and small children are dying from the cold. More people are dying from attacks on settlements for the displaced.”
“While the Assad regime and Russia continue to indiscriminately attack and kill civilians, the US government is providing humanitarian assistance to those in need in northwest Syria,” the State Department spokesperson continued. “Despite ongoing safety and security challenges for humanitarian agencies in northwest Syria, State and USAID partners continue to provide emergency assistance to vulnerable populations. US government partners are distributing essential relief items, food, and winterization support to internally displaced persons (IDPs); supporting hospitals and mobile clinics serving conflict-affected populations; and providing shelter and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) assistance to IDPs in camps and informal settlements across the region.”
“Turkey alone cannot handle the humanitarian fallout caused by Russia and the Assad regime’s continued attacks on the people of northwest Syria,” the State Department spokesperson said. “We stand by our NATO ally Turkey against these actions. President Trump, in his call with Turkish President Erdogan on Saturday, reiterated our call for Russia to end its support for the Assad regime’s atrocities and for a political resolution to the Syrian conflict.”
The United States has not yet announced additional pledges of support to address the staggering humanitarian crisis.
The US support for Turkey so far is expressed in diplomatic rhetoric, no action, apart from arming groups in northeastern Syria who are using the weapons to fight the Turkish troops in the region.
The UN humanitarian affairs office said it was increasing its appeal to $500 million from $336 million to try to provide assistance to over a million people from northwest Syria over the next six months.
“We initially sought to help 800,000 displaced people over the next six months; we are now planning to address the needs of 1.1 million people,” Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told journalists in Geneva.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Erdogan Forces Recaptured Nayrab, But Lost Another Dozen Of Villages To Syrian Army
- Turkish-led Forces Are Fleeing From Southern Idlib. Kafr Nubl Is In Hands Of Syrian Army (Map Update)
- Syrian Army Shot Down Turkish Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle Over Eastern Idlib (Video)