Russian jets hit exclusively Nusra targets in Syria's Idlib - MoD

Russian jets hit exclusively Nusra targets in Syria's Idlib - MoD

Russian jets hit exclusively Nusra targets in Syria's Idlib - MoD

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the RIA news agency that Russian military action in Syria's Idlib province was precisely targeted to minimize risks to the population. Reports of an imminent assault come despite an anticipated summit meeting this coming Friday between Turkey, Russia, and Syria, to discuss the situation in Idlib.

As Syrian troops massed near the northwestern region of almost three million people, the last major rebel stronghold, renewed Russian airstrikes killed at least nine civilians, according to a violence monitor.

According to Konashenkov, the jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is "preparing another provocation of the "use of chemical weapons" by Syrian government forces against the peaceful population of the Idlib province".

A Syrian man rides a motorcycle past a destroyed building in an area that was hit by a reported airstrike in the district of Jisr al-Shughur, in the Idlib province, September 4, 2018.

Turkey, Russia and Iran previous year designated Idlib a so-called "de-escalation zone", but that deal did not cover former Al-Qaeda affiliate HTS.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on sources in Syria for its reports, said at least nine civilians - including five children from the same family - were killed in the raids, while 10 people were wounded. More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests. The United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura on Tuesday urged Russian Federation and Turkey to find a solution and avert a bloodbath.

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"The United States is closely monitoring the situation in Idlib province, Syria, where millions of innocent civilians are under threat of an imminent Assad regime attack, backed by Russian Federation and Iran", the White House wrote in a statement.

"We know that the Syrian armed forces are getting ready to solve this problem", Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.

Since 2011, Assad's regime has repeatedly been accused of using chemical weapons, including this year in its battle to retake the former rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.

Erdogan as well as the presidents of Iran and Russian Federation will meet on Friday in Tehran for a summit expected to focus on Idlib.

The White House issued a statement Tuesday warning against "a reckless escalation of an already tragic conflict".

The Trump administration has twice launched airstrikes against Syria's government in response to the chemical weapons attacks.

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