Turkey Warns of New Migration Wave from Idlib Offensive

US calls on Assad regime to dismantle chemical weapons programme

US calls on Assad regime to dismantle chemical weapons programme

Syrian government forces and their allies have killed at least 85 civilians since December 31 in stepped-up attacks against the besieged rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta, the United Nations human rights chief said on Wednesday.

Almost 100,000 people have been displaced since early December by the fighting, the United Nations says.

In the event, at least one rebel group - this being Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda) - has made a decision to re-militarize the Al-Hass area and to this end, the last twelve hours has witnessed the jihadist faction flood southwest Aleppo with reinforcements. De-escalation zones include the Idlib province, some parts of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces, Homs, Eastern Ghouta, Daraa and al-Quneitra provinces in southern Syria.

"Residential areas are being hit day and night by strikes from the ground and from the air, forcing civilians to hide in basements", he said in a statement.

If it is recaptured, the airport will be "the first military base in the hands of the regime in Idlib province", said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said regime forces were able to enter Abu Duhur airbase under air cover and were engaged in fierce fighting with the jihadists.

"How can you not discriminate between civilians and terror groups in a place where millions of people have been living?" he asked.

Syria has been embroiled in a civil war since 2011.

On his first visit to Syria, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock met with Syrian authorities and travelled to the central city of Homs on Wednesday to see the impact of the conflict on civilians for himself.

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