Syrian government and Russians target Idlib in heavy strikes

US has seen evidence of Syria preparing chemical weapons in Idlib: envoy

US has seen evidence of Syria preparing chemical weapons in Idlib: envoy

The fate of the insurgent stronghold in and around Idlib province rests on a meeting to be held in Tehran on Friday between the leaders of Assad's supporters Russian Federation and Iran, and the rebels' ally, Turkey.

Russian Federation and Iran have rejected Turkey's call for a ceasefire in Syria's last rebel enclave despite President Erdogan's warnings that civilians would be massacred in any attack. There are an estimated 30,000 rebel fighters still in the area, including some 10,000 al-Qaeda-linked militants.

A new refugee wave has already started but "Turkey's capacity to host migrants" has filled up, Erdoğan said at a three-way summit in Tehran with the leaders of Russian Federation and Iran.

Idlib, however, is providing rare common ground between Ankara and Washington, with U.S. President Donald Trump warning against a major offensive on the enclave; however, given what analysts suggest is the improbability of any U.S. military intervention, Ankara will be reluctant to sacrifice its ties with Moscow. "The main issue with Idlib is that it is the last terrorist stronghold and there is a need to tackle it because the longer they [terrorists - TASS] remain there, the more the situation deteriorates in Syria's neighboring countries", Safronkov noted.

"In addition to the Syrian regime, these commanders, these units, will be held accountable by the worldwide community" if there is major offensive with mass civilian casualties, Pierce warned.

As sides close in on the remaining jihadist forces operating in Syria, Jeffrey said it was time for a "major diplomatic initiative" to end the seven-year conflict. "That would be absurd", she told the council.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Hassan Rouhani of Iran, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey attend a news conference in Tehran, Sept. 7, 2018.

With little hope of stopping the government forces, protests broke out in Idlib and the nearby western countryside of Aleppo Province, with demonstrators chanting slogans against Assad. At least one person was killed and several others wounded.

Airstrikes hammered rebel positions in Idlib as the summit got underway.

An official in the town of Morek, which serves as a crossing between Hama and Idlib, appealed for Turkey to intervene as it has troops and 12 observations points circling Idlib. He also charged militants in Idlib province with preparing their own chemical weapons attacks. Russian Federation and Iran insisted that... Russian Federation expects the United States to facilitate the separation of opposition members from terrorists in the Idlib province but it has not happened yet.

The US state department warned on Monday that Washington would respond to any new chemical attacks by the Syrian government or its allies.

Erdogan argued his country cannot take in any more Syrian refugees and argued that a "rational solution" to the Idlib situation should be reached. USA officials have said there is no evidence the rebels in Idlib possess chemical weapons.

Any assault on Idlib would be "a unsafe escalation of the conflict in Syria", Haley noted.

"If the regime uses CW [chemical weapons] - which it has throughout the war - then the U.S. will likely strike Assad regime targets", says Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Syria should regain control of all its territory, he said.

Back in March, President Trump seemed to announce a new Syria policy without notifying anyone else in government.

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