Russian Federation says Syrian regime preparing to 'solve' Idlib problem

04 September, 2018, 20:09 | Author: Bert Pena
  • Explosions at a Syrian military airport close to Damascus

His forces are amassing around the province of Idlib, presumably in preparation for the assault. But as news of the bombings circulated later in the day, the Kremlin said the province was a "nest of terrorists".

Iran echoed that theme.

In his opinion, "making some kind of warnings without paying attention to the unsafe, negative potential (of the situation in Idlib) for the whole situation in Syria is possibly not the fullest or comprehensive approach".

"They are using people as human shields".

Tuesday's bombardment hit several areas held by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, among them the large town of Jisr al-Shighour, but also areas held by rival Turkish-backed rebels, including the town of Ariha.

Last week the United Nations envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said the Nusra Front and al Qaeda, both of which the worldwide body designates as terrorists, had an estimated 10,000 fighters in Idlib.

"Two civilians have been killed, but no major facilities have been hit at the moment".

Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there was no doubt about the risks to civilians given Idlib's terrain and hard operating environment.

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Media reports had said Syria's government might wait until Sept 10 before launching an assault, making a summit in Tehran on Friday "crucial".

Turkey fears a major assault on Idlib could send a new wave of refugees towards its border, and wants to maintain a "de-escalation agreement" that it struck with Russian Federation and Iran a year ago.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey was discussing joint action with Russian Federation to target terrorist groups in Idlib while avoiding a full-scale offensive. "We're going to be much more measured".

Ankara has said the presence of radical groups in Idlib is being used a pretext for a military operation.

Fars quoted Zarif as saying in Damascus that "the remaining terrorists in the remaining parts of Idlib must be cleaned out and the region should be placed back under the control of the Syrian people".

"Just to speak out with some warnings, without taking into account the very risky, negative potential for the whole situation in Syria, is probably not a full, comprehensive approach", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, apparently in reference to Trump's comment.

But Turkey, whose army has a string of observation posts around the edge of the rebel area, has warned against such an offensive.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow on September 3 that Syrian government forces had the right to "liquidate terrorists" in Idlib. That would bring Assad close to reclaiming the major strategic prize in the region, two arterial highways running to Aleppo.

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