Syrian army is massing to finish off rebels. Millions of civilians tremble

Blanche Robertson
September 6, 2018

Washington sees a potential attack on Idlib as an escalation of an already unsafe conflict, USA secretary says.

"Throughout their trip, Ambassador Jeffrey... will also address Russia's specious allegations of global plans to stage a chemical weapons attack in Syria", the release said on Friday.

Idlib, the last rebel holdout in Syria, faces a "humanitarian catastrophe" unless the worldwide community acts to safeguard civilian lives, Pope Francis warned on Sunday. It has been argued that Turkey may be involved in convincing Tahrir al-Sham (called also Jabhat al-Nusra) to merge with other armed groups.

Last week, a source close to the regime said Damascus was preparing a phased offensive to recover Idlib province, but Turkey, whose army has a string of observation posts around the edge of the opposition and rebel area, has warned against such an assault.

Turkey, which has long supported anti-Assad rebels, has cooperated with Russian Federation and Iran on talks over Syria in recent years and has troops in the Idlib region on an observation mission.

"A military solution there would be a disaster", Cavusoglu said at a news conference, standing beside Russia's foreign minister, Sergey V Lavrov.

Idlib and the surrounding area is home to some 3 million people - almost half of them, including Alhamdo, already displaced a couple of times by the civil war - choosing to live in opposition areas. It comes with an appendix noting that the group's former name was the Nusra Front.

"We see different gatherings in a variety of places - in Ankara, in Tehran, in Geneva, in other places - talking about redesigning Syria after the battle in Idlib", Liberman said. For those fighters, the battle for Idlib will likely be the last showdown with the regime and they are expected to put up a hard fight.

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Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar held a closed-door meeting with US Special Envoy to Syria, James Jeffrey, in capital Ankara on Tuesday.

An attack on Idlib would be a "singular catastrophe", according to the Soufan Group, a New York-based company providing security analysis to governments and organizations. HTS is now the most powerful armed faction in Idlib.

The latest exchange of warnings between Washington and Moscow comes as war monitors say thousands of Syrian government troops and allied fighters have been amassing in areas surrounding Idlib in preparation for an assault.

Though the group claims to have no direct ties to al-Qaida, it's considered a terrorist group by the United States and the United Nations.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey will meet President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran on Friday to discuss Syria, in the latest round of their discussions on Syria known as the Astana process.

She said violence could force as many as 800,000 people to flee in one of the Syrian war's largest displacements yet.

With the liberation of Idlib, the Syrian government will return to pre-crisis conditions, and those who launched the war over Syria for seven years will be defeated and Damascus will be victorious.

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