Air strikes continue in last Syrian rebel stronghold of Idlib

Russia's UN envoy Vasily Nebenzya

The fate of Idlib, Syria's last rebel-held area, is in the balance after the leaders of Iran and Russian Federation backed an offensive to recapture it.

Ankara has drawn up a plan to offer armed rebel groups safe conduct out of the Syrian province of Idlib in a bid to avert the bloodshed of a major assault by Damascus, the pro-government Sabah newspaper reported on Friday. The widely anticipated offensive has drawn global concern. They seized the territories, with the backing of the U.S-led coalition, after chasing out Islamic State militants.

Kurdish security forces, known as Asayish, said that a government patrol entered the areas controlled by the Kurdish militia in Qamishli and began arresting civilians, then shot at a Kurdish checkpoint, sparking the gun battle.

"The dangers are profound that any battle for Idlib could be, would be, a horrific and bloody battle", Mr.de Mistura said.

However, experts from the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have said government forces were behind an attack involving the nerve agent Sarin on a rebel-held town in southern Idlib in April 2017 that killed more than 80 people.

The humanitarian impact has been staggering.

In this May 17, 2018, file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during their meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he's concerned about a bloodbath in Idilb, which could send a stream of refugees into Turkey. The influx of defeated fighters and their families to the Idlib dumping ground saw the local population nearly double from 1.5 million to almost 3 million.

The UN and Western countries have blamed Assad's forces for chemical weapons attacks in the civil war, something denied by Russian Federation and Syria. The quid pro quo would be regime support to drive Turkey and its rebel proxies out of Afrin. Maybe more. Where will these terrorists go?

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"Iran and Turkey must further boost their economic relations to counter United States sanctions", President Hassan Rouhani said in a Friday meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is in Tehran to attend a trilateral summit on Syria with his Iranian and Russian counterparts. "Agreed to work to end terrorism & avoid human suffering in #Idlib".

"Russia's message is clear", argues Mr. Yetkın. The group said one of its already damaged centers has been hit in the wave of airstrikes. "The signal for the beginning of the practical phase of the terrorists" provocation in the province of Idlib will be a special team from some "foreign friends of the Syrian revolution", Sputnik quoted Konashenkov as saying.

Dunford has warned about the potential for a humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib and instead has recommended more narrowly tailored operations against militants there.

Speaking Thursday at the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the Assad regime "and its backers must stop their military campaign in all its forms to allow the U.N. -led political process to have a chance to succeed".

Earlier this year, a senior adviser to Erdogan warned against any attack on Idlib, describing it as a "red line".

Itani says he had trouble imagining what a cease-fire would look like. "They only real disincentive is a military conflict with Turkey, but even that may not be enough". We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

While President Donald Trump had signaled that he wanted USA forces out of Syria, in April he agreed to keep troops there a little longer. "We hope that the representatives of these terrorist organizations have enough common sense to surrender their weapons", he told reporters after the talks. The Assad regime "must pause" its offensive. At least 74 people died.

The Turkish president said earlier this week he has plans to ditch the U.S. dollar in trade with Iran and instead use local currencies.

Heras warned that the Trump team is late to formulate a coherent Syria policy.

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