Syria threatened with 'stronger response' if it uses chemical weapons in Idlib

Syria threatened with 'stronger response' if it uses chemical weapons in Idlib

Syria threatened with 'stronger response' if it uses chemical weapons in Idlib

Turkey has continued to provide humanitarian relief to opposition areas in Idlib and Latakia - situated in Syria's north - and operates a number of military observation posts in the province.

Syrian government and Russian warplanes on Saturday targeted the southern edge of Idlib province in what activists described as the most intense airstrikes in weeks, ratcheting up military pressure on the densely populated rebel-held bastion.

At least four civilians including two children were killed in the strikes and as dozens of barrel bombs were dropped by regime aircraft, the Britain-based monitor said. Video from a pro-opposition news agency shows smoke from what it said were bombings in multiple villages.

The opposition accuses Russian Federation and its allies of already striking at hospitals and civil defence centres to force rebels to surrender in a repeat of earlier, large-scale military offensives.

The Syrian government says it is attacking terrorists who are using the communities as human shields.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said it was the heaviest bombardment since August 10, when at least 53 civilians were killed in Idlib and the neighbouring province of Aleppo.

His remarks came as Syrian troops, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, massed around the northwestern province ahead of an expected onslaught against the largest rebel-held zone left in the country.

A new offensive on Idlib would likely uproot 800,000 people, the United Nations warned, causing major problems for relief agencies.

The renewed strikes came a day after Syrian regime allies Russian Federation and Iran and Turkey, a supporter of Syrian rebel factions, disagreed on the fate of the province at a summit in Tehran.

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Trump "has been clear on the consequences for the use of chemical weapons", Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Saturday.

It is also home to a Turkey-backed coalition known as the National Liberation Front, as well as civilians who have left their previous homes instead of agreeing to so-called "reconciliation" agreements with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"Russia is reminding Turkey it needs to stay in Russia's good graces if Turkey wants to avoid a painful catastrophe in north-west Syria", Mr Heras told Agence France-Presse.

In an article in the USA daily Wall Street Journal published on Tuesday, Erdogan echoed the UN's concerns on a potential humanitarian crisis, adding that an attack on the last rebel-held province would affect Turkey, Europe and beyond.

In the neighbouring province of Hama, Russian jets carried out more than ten strikes on rebel positions in the village of Al-Latamneh, he said.

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 after Syrian troops recaptured almost all other major towns and cities, largely defeating the rebellion against Assad. The regime controls a southeastern chunk.

"When they did not comply, the shooting started on the vehicle", Abdel Rahman said. It is also alarmed by efforts by USA -backed Kurdish YPG forces - regarded by Ankara as an affiliate of PKK separatists it has been battling for decades - to recapture northern areas held by Turkish forces. They seized the territories, with the backing of the USA -led coalition, after driving out Islamic State militants.

The Damascus regime has vowed to reintegrate the Kurdish-held areas, by force if necessary.

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