UN Security Council to meet Friday on northwest Syria

Syrian forces and their Russian allies have stepped up attacks on the jihadist-controlled Idlib region, raising alarm that a full-on offensive is imminent to seize the territory (AFP Photo/Anas AL-dyab)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The UN Security Council will meet Friday to discuss the surge of fighting in northwest Syria, the second meeting on the worsening violence in as many weeks, diplomats said.

Syrian forces and their Russian allies have stepped up attacks on the jihadist-controlled Idlib region since late April, raising alarm that a full-on offensive is imminent to seize the territory.

Belgium, Germany and Kuwait requested the urgent meeting to follow up on a closed session of the Council held on Friday during which several countries expressed concern over a potential humanitarian catastrophe from an all-out assault.

The council will meet in open session and hear a briefing from UN humanitarian affairs chief Mark Lowcock among other briefers.

Belgium, Germany and Kuwait, three non-permanent members of the council, lead efforts to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria, now in its ninth year of war.

More than 180,000 people have been displaced by the latest violence, according to the United Nations, while 119 civilians have been killed in bombardment since late April, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.

The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.