'Great fear' as Syrian regime bombs edge of rebels' last stronghold Idlib

'Great fear' as Syrian regime bombs edge of rebels' last stronghold Idlib

'Great fear' as Syrian regime bombs edge of rebels' last stronghold Idlib

On Monday, Trump tweeted: "President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province".

Putin icily retorted, "The armed militants are not present at our table, are not taking part in our talks".

It is full of fear and expectations and rumours.

Iran's Rouhani said the battle in Syria would continue until rebels were pushed out of the whole country, especially in Idlib, but he added that any military operations should avoid hurting civilians.

A jihadist fighter and a shepherd were killed by the blasts, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

America's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has warned any military offensive in Idlib "would be a reckless escalation".

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.

Although Putin demanded the "total annihilation of terrorists in Syria" and Rouhani urged "cleansing the Idlib region of terrorists" - by which the two authoritarian leaders mean all forces opposed to Assad - they acknowledged the importance of minimizing civilian casualties and did not completely rule out the possibility of ceasefire negotiations. "Turkey has filled its capacity to host refugees".

"From what I can tell, they have been planning a fake attack, not a genuine one, but one where they actually move people out of a town and they have trained people to portray victims of a gas attack", Black said Friday in an interview with The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, Jim Jeffrey, Washington's special envoy to Syria, said the USA was seeing indications Assad's forces were readying chemical weapons.

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The stance of Turkey, which mans 12 observation posts on the edges of the Idlib enclave, is critical to determining its fate, analysts say.

Putin ominously accused Western forces of protecting terrorists and faking chemical weapons attacks to discredit the Syrian regime.

Black said Britain's MI6 intelligence service was planning a chemical weapons attack on the Syrian people, which it would then blame on Assad.

The United States has about 2,000 troops in other areas of Syria but little leverage in Idlib, which had been declared a "de-escalation" zone under an agreement reached a year ago between Russia, Turkey and Iran.

The bombings followed the failure to agree a ceasefire when the leaders of Iran, Russia and Turkey met in Tehran on Friday.

"These commanders, these units, will be held accountable by the global community", said Karen Pierce, the British ambassador to the UN.

Asked whether there was still a chance the assault on Idlib could be averted, Dunford said: "I don't know if there's anything that can stop it".

For Russia and Iran, both allies of the Syrian government, retaking Idlib is crucial to complete what they see as a military victory in Syria's civil war.

The Qatari newspaper Al-Watan gave coverage under the title "Turkish president stresses the need to resolve the issue of Idlib without new tragedies and tensions". "We hear about massacres in other places and worry that it might happen in Idlib".

Russian Federation is Assad's top global backer; its support, including aircraft, special forces and mercenaries, enabled him to reverse the course of his country's seven-year civil war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more.

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