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June 24, 2017

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Turkey condemns UN inertia over Syria conflict

ISTANBUL -- Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan rebuked the U.N. Security Council for inaction over Syria on Saturday as war intensified across the country, saying the world body of superpowers was repeating mistakes that led to massacres in Bosnia in the 1990s.

President Bashar al-Assad's forces used airstrikes and artillery to bombard insurgents on several fronts in the 19-month-old conflict, which risks dragging in regional powers with no sign of a diplomatic breakthrough.

Turkey — increasingly entangled after having intercepted a Syrian airliner carrying what it said were Russian-made munitions for the Syrian army, infuriating Moscow and Damascus — has led calls for intervention, including no-fly zones enforced by foreign aircraft to stop deadly air raids by Assad's forces.

But there is little chance of U.N. support for robust action. China insists any solution to Syria's crisis must come from within while Russia has said many Syrians still support Assad. Western nations meanwhile are loath to commit to any military action that could touch off a regional sectarian war.

"The U.N. Security Council has not intervened in the human tragedy that has been going on in Syria for 20 months, despite all our efforts," Erdogan told a conference in Istanbul attended by dignitaries including Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby. "There's an attitude that encourages, gives the green light to Assad to kill tens or hundreds of people every day."

The bloodshed has worsened markedly in the past two months although neither side has been able to gain a distinct advantage, with government force relying heavily on air power and artillery to batter the rebels.

Combat has been reported nationwide but the crucial strategic battles are being fought in an arc through western Syria, where most of the population lives.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was expected to meet U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on the sidelines of the Istanbul conference later. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this week Brahimi would visit Syria soon to try to persuade Assad to call an immediate ceasefire.

The government dispatched warplanes to attack insurgent forces surrounding the Wadi-al-Dayf military barracks near Maarat al-Numan in Idlib province, wounding 22 rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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