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

Pauline Gross
September 9, 2018

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.

Ankara's call for a ceasefire was rejected by Russian Federation and Iran who both back the Syrian government, prompting Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to warn of a Turkish intervention if there is a bloodbath.

Nearly half of the more than three million people who live in the area have already been displaced from fighting elsewhere in Syria. That also includes an estimated 10,000 hard-core fighters, including al-Qaeda-linked militants.

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

All also face USA sanctions under the administration of President Donald Trump. "President Vladimir Putin does not want to lose time letting terrorist elements in Idlib embed with the civilian population, spread violence elsewhere, and use civilians as human shelters against possible attacks, while also not caring much about the possible collateral damage".

While Trump has not publicly called for regime change in Syria, Bob Woodward reports in his new book-citing "deep background" interviews with top administration officials-that the president past year ordered Defense Secretary James Mattis to "go in" to Syria and "fucking kill" Assad. Turkey plans to stop any "anticipated attacks" on the militant-held province, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday, warning that any operation in Idlib could possibly lead to a "serious humanitarian tragedy".

The White House has warned that the United States and its allies would respond "swiftly and vigorously" if government forces used chemical weapons in the widely expected offensive.

The battle for Syria's Idlib province looms large in what could prove to be the bloodiest conflict yet in this long and painful civil war.

"We have to force the United States to leave".

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"We will neither watch from the sidelines nor participate in such a game", Erdoğan said in a message on Twitter.

Kalin reminded that Idlib is a de-escalation zone under the Astana agreement and Turkey, Russia and Iran established military posts in the province as the guarantor countries.

The US has some 2,000 special forces troops deployed mainly in eastern Syria alongside the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, and is primarily focused on ensuring the defeat of the ruthless Islamic State group and the full withdrawal of all Iranian and Iranian-led forces from Syria.

Turkey, which backed opposition forces against Assad, fears a flood of refugees fleeing a military offensive and the destabilisation of areas it now holds in Syria.

Erdogan argued his country cannot take in any more Syrian refugees and argued that a "rational solution" to the Idlib situation should be reached.

"The scenarios for the filming of staged "incidents" with the alleged use of poisonous substances by Syrian government troops against civilians in the settlements of Jisr Al-Shugur, Serakab, Taftanaz, and Sarmin were finally agreed upon during the meeting".

Erdogan, in his opening remarks, said a ceasefire in Idlib would be a victory for their summit. This suggests Turkey is increasingly isolated as it weighs its next move in Syria.

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

"I think the last chapter of the Idlib story has not been written".

Other reports by GizPress

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