Syrian government forces attack rebel-held city

Blanche Robertson
September 7, 2018

"We know that the Syrian armed forces are getting ready to solve this problem", Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.

Turkey's president has said that his country does not want a bloodbath in Idlib province and a ceasefire would be an important step amid looming Russian-backed Syrian offensive in the last rebel-held area. Reports proving these plans say that the United States has been increasing the number of cruise missiles deployed to the Middle East. Washington denied those reports.

The Syrian military has been sending reinforcements to the area for more than a month, and Russian Federation has ramped up its rhetoric. Russia, which has provided air support to the Syrian Army since 2015, has made a big show of force by moving 10 warships and two submarines off the coast of Syria. "With millions of civilians at risk, an offensive against Idlib would be a reckless escalation". Erdogan and Putin along with their Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani will hold a series of bilateral meetings before going behind closed doors for the trilateral talks.

"The leaders will in particular focus on the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone, where terrorist remnants are concentrated", he said, in particular referring to HTS. "There is lots of evidence that chemical weapons are being prepared".

The White House has warned that the United States and its allies would respond "swiftly and vigorously" if Syrian government forces used chemical weapons in the widely expected offensive. President Trump has previously labelled Assad an "animal" for using the banned weapons, and called Iran and Russian Federation "responsible for backing" him.

As the conflict approaches its endgame, Iran, Turkey and Russian Federation are seeking to safeguard their own interests after investing heavily militarily and diplomatically in Syria. He told Iranian state-run TV on Thursday night that, "the final statement was finalized through negotiations in Tehran and if approved by the three presidents it will be rolled out as the final statement". "Joint work can be done to eliminate these groups, but the solution is definitely not to bomb Idlib in its entirety".

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Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president, said: "We continue to maintain an ongoing dialogue with the Office of Special Counsel". Rudy Giuliani , one of Trump's lawyers, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump shifted his public tone on Syria within a matter of weeks, as the USA and its allies launched missile strikes against Syria in April over a chemical attack against civilians in the city of Duoma.

"We don't find it correct that the [Russian raids] happened before the Tehran summit", he said.

"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.

Jeffrey said the taking a tougher stance and will not tolerate an all-out attack on the region.

Northwestern Idlib province and surrounding areas are home to about 3 million people - almost half of them civilians displaced from other parts of Syria. And Turkey has sought to separate some of Idlib's more moderate fighters from the hardcore Islamist militants affiliated with al-Qaeda.

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