Northern Idlib province is the last major opposition and rebel stronghold in Syria. Diplomatic moves by Turkey and Russia have defused the threat of an imminent regime attack. Much must still be done to ensure the safety of civilians in the region.
The assault on Idlib has been prevented, for now. The only way to prevent a future offensive, though, will be to get the US, Turkey and NATO on a united track.
The Russian Defence Ministry says 15 service people died in the incident off the Syrian coast after Israeli fighters forced the warplane into the path of regime air defence systems.
More than 40,000 candidates are competing for 18,478 seats across all regime-controlled provinces for the country's first local elections since 2011.
The Israeli military has declined to comment on the report but has in the past acknowledged carrying out scores of air strikes in the past, mainly against Iranian and Hezbollah targets.
In a Wall Street Journal article, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the international community to take action, and warned that "the entire world stands to pay the price" otherwise.
Idlib is home to some three million people — around half of them displaced from other parts of the country — and UN says an attack on the region could result in the worst humanitarian catastrophe with the biggest loss of life in the 21st century.
The clashes erupted between YPG militants and the Assad regime forces after the Syrian regime erected a checkpoint on a road connecting Al Hassakah province and Qamishli area.
The US Treasury has announced sanctions targeting four individuals and five entities that have supplied fuel to the Syrian regime.
Olof Skoog, ambassador and permanent representative of Sweden to the UN, said at the organization's headquarters in New York that a full-scale military operation in Idlib would escalate an already dangerous conflict in a volatile region.
There is "evidence" that chemical weapons are being prepared by Syria in the northwest, US adviser James Jeffrey says, as the world waits for Turkey, Russia and Iran to prevent Assad's regime from launching an all-out, devastating attack on Idlib.
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