Syrian government and Russians target Idlib in heavy strikes

Syrian government and Russians target Idlib in heavy strikes

The renewed strikes came a day after the leaders of rebel backer Turkey and regime allies Russian Federation and Iran failed at the summit in Tehran to agree on how to stave off a threatened offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib.

The presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation on Friday failed to agree on a ceasefire that would forestall a Syrian government offensive in the militant-held Idlib province.

Idlib is home to some 3 million people and a regime offensive may trigger a new wave of displacement, driving refugees to Turkey which is already hosting more than 3.5 million Syrians.

It is the last major rebel-held area in Syria and government forces, backed by Russian Federation, are poised to attack.

U.S. President Donald Trump warned Assad this week against committing a "slaughter" in the Syrian province.

Reacting to Erdogan's proposal for a cease-fire in Idlib, Putin said "a cease-fire would be good" but indicated that Moscow does not think it will hold. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

Ankara is one of the main backers of the Syrian rebels, developing strong ties with myriad warring opposition groups.

Previously, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that al-Nusrah terrorists were preparing a provocation in Syria's western Idlib province in order to accuse Damascus of using chemical weapons against civilians, while the United Kingdom, the U.S., and France said in August that they "will respond appropriately to any further use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime".

Earlier this year, a senior adviser to Erdogan warned against any attack on Idlib, describing it as a "red line".

"The fires of war and bloodshed in Syria are reaching their end", Rouhani said, while adding that terrorism must "be uprooted in Syria, particularly in Idlib".

France's top military official also said last week his forces were prepared to carry out strikes on Syrian targets if chemical weapons were used in Idlib.

But Russia's Vladimir Putin said on Friday a ceasefire would be pointless as it would not involve Islamist militant groups it deems terrorists. "We hope that the representatives of these terrorist organizations have enough common sense to surrender their weapons", he told reporters after the talks.

Syrian government forces and their Russian allies have launched a series of airstrikes in and around Idlib, the last key opposition stronghold in Syria, a war monitor says. "Russian jet fighters and the regime ground forces can not afford attacks while Turkish soldiers are there", Kalin said.

An estimated half a million people have died in the Syrian conflict since March 2011 and 12 million more have fled their homes to seek refuge inside the country or overseas.

"The regime might conduct a face-saving attack on areas away from Turkey's zones of operation, a low-hanging fruit", he said.

The U.S. has found itself largely on the sidelines of the possible offensive as Iran, Russia and Turkey - all nations that Washington has imposed sanctions upon - discuss Idlib's future. He told Iranian state-run TV on Thursday night that, "the final statement was finalized through negotiations in Tehran and if approved by the three presidents it will be rolled out as the final statement". In July, Boltonhad foreshadowed the shift of the administration's Syria policy when he stated during an interview on ABC's Next Week with George Stephanopoulos that the USA troops would remain in Syria indefinitely "as long as the Iranian menace continues throughout the Middle East". Kalin said an attack there to "eliminate terrorist groups" would undermine the ongoing Astana process with Russian Federation and Iran to reach a political solution.

Idlib now hosts about three million people, including one million children, according to the United Nations, and the expected government plans for an assault on the province have raised fears of a humanitarian disaster.

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