Russia Launches Airstrikes in Syria's Rebel-Held Idlib

07 September, 2018, 16:30 | Author: Angel Logan
  • Syrian President Bashar al Assad attends an interview with Russian television channel NTV

The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey began a meeting Friday in Tehran to discuss the war in Syria, with all eyes on a possible military offensive to retake the last rebel-held bastion of Idlib.

According to the pro-government Turkish daily newspaper, Sabah, Turkey will propose Friday a plan that includes disarming militants and evacuating them through safe corridors to a buffer zone.

Northwestern Idlib province and surrounding areas are home to about three million people - almost half of them civilians displaced from other parts of Syria.

Among them were positions of the HTS and Ahrar al-Sham groups, the observatory said.

Assad's government has been massing thousands of troops in preparation for an assault.

But regime backers Russian Federation and Iran have sworn to wipe out "terrorists" and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has declared his determination to retake control of the entire country. "The Turks have shown a great deal of resistance to an attack".

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, often backed by Russian warplanes, have steadily gained on the rebels.

The Assad government was not directly represented at the summit, nor was the United States or other Western powers.

More than 3 million people live in the Idlib area and U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that a "human catastrophe" could unfold if the Syrian government attacks the province.

Over the past week Russian Federation has warned that a chemical weapon provocation is being prepared in Idlib to be further used by the West as a pretext for a new strike on the Arab Republic. "And more still, there are no representatives of Jabhat al-Nusra or ISIS or the Syrian army", Putin said.

Aid groups have warned that any military offensive in Idlib could spark one of the worst humanitarian disasters of Syria's seven-year civil war.

Erdogan has warned against such a catastrophic outcome, and has much at stake in efforts to prevent it at the Tehran summit.

Speaking from Tehran, Al Jazeera's Zein Basravi said that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin were "speaking from both sides of their mouths" during their opening statements. "There are indeed many more babies than there are terrorists in Idlib".

Iranian fighters have provided critical support for Assad throughout the war.

"I don't think that either of these countries, or really anyone, has an interest in doing something which is genuinely destabilising to Turkey", he added.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday arrived in Iran to attend a trilateral meeting on Syria in the Iranian capital Tehran.

"The Trump Administration and the worldwide community have made it clear that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict", Haley told the Council, which was to hold another meeting Friday on the crisis in Idlib.

In regaining control over other parts of Syria in the previous year, Russian-brokered surrender deals offered safe passage for tens of thousands of rebels and their families to Idlib, which is why the province became the last bastion of the armed resistance.

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