Idlib is being subjected to a medieval type scorched earth assault with Syrian and Russian forces incinerating and killing everything in their path. They are even prepared to attack troops from a NATO country (Turkey) in their pursuit of total victory.
This month marks 6 years since the devastating nerve agent attack in Ghouta which killed 1,500 people. Then the British and U.S. governments decided not to punish Assad for crossing a redline. As a result, chemical weapons have now proliferated globally, and we have seen up to 500 documented uses in Syria. ISIS has used them in Syria and Iraq, N Korea in Kuala Lumpur and the Russians in the UK. They have been demonstrated as morbidly brilliant weapons if you have no morals or scruples on their use, and the perfect terror weapon. Due to our weakness to not uphold the redline they are likely to threaten us for years to come.
I was in Idlib this month. The doctors I was with fear chemical attacks above all else. Assad uses this tactic when he’s in trouble or take difficult objectives for example in Aleppo 2016. All in Idlib are braced for their use in the coming weeks. Assad knows that he may get a few cruise missiles for his troubles but it will help him retake Idlib, and his own casualties are of little consequence. Putin has also no doubt advised him that the G7 and UN Security Council are too self-interested and dis-interested to oppose this action. At this stage, there seems little chance that anybody will come marching over the hill to save the civilians trapped in this shattered province in the eastern Mediterranean.
The juxtaposition with the conventional munitions raining down on Idlib is stark. 100s of civilians are being killed in this ferocious assault. There is a rolling barrage of air strikes and artillery, moving in a line North West, destroying and killing everything in its path even as the international community sits on its hands. There are 3 million civilians trapped amongst around 5000 jihadist fighters of HTS in an area the size of greater London.
If we do nothing for the women and children in Idlib, as we did nothing when chemical weapons were used 6 years ago, breaking the 100-year taboo of their use, every dictator, despot, rogue state and terrorist, will have free rein to attack, murder and kill with apparent impunity. It is time for the West, in particular, to regain its moral compass and if necessary to commit British, American and French boots on the ground, along with the Russians if necessary, and Turks, to defeat the terrorists in Idlib and save 3 million civilians. Only then can we expect a lasting peace, and reconstruction can begin which undoubtedly the West will have to pay for. The UN has been virtually absent during this conflict and needs to turn up before it becomes completely irrelevant.