Syria Summit In Tehran To Decide Idlib Military Offensive

Russia Confirms Air Strikes on Syria's Idlib

Early on Friday, a series of airstrikes struck villages in southwest Idlib, targeting insurgent posts and killing a fighter, said Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Turkey, which backed opposition forces against Syrian President Bashar Assad, fears a flood of refugees fleeing a military offensive and destabilizing areas it now holds in Syria. "The problem is that the Assad regime will eradicate all the civilians who will attempt to go through humanitarian corridors; if they're not murdered they'll be sent to jail".

In the province itself, thousands of people staged street protests after Friday prayers calling for global protection.

One hospital in the village of Hass in southern Idlib was destroyed by a barrel bomb dropped from a helicopter. Idlib is largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an Islamist alliance led by an al-Qaeda-affiliated group.

Syrian government and Russian warplanes on Saturday targeted the southern edge of Idlib province with an intense wave of airstrikes and shelling, activists and a war monitoring group said, ratcheting up the military pressure on the densely populated rebel-held bastion.

"In addition to the Syrian regime, these commanders, these units, will be held accountable by the worldwide community" if there is major offensive with mass civilian casualties, Pierce warned.

HTS and rival rebel factions backed by neighbouring Turkey have said they will fight back.

Naji Abu Hadhifa, a spokesperson for the National Football League, told Al Jazeera that nothing has changed after the Tehran summit, which confirmed the armed opposition's low expectations.

In a summit on Friday in the Iranian capital, Turkey - which backs certain rebel groups in Idlib - and Assad allies Russian Federation and Iran failed to reach an agreement on the fate of the province, which is home to about three million people, half of whom are internally displaced.

"Fighting terrorism in Idlib is an unavoidable part of the mission of restoring peace and stability to Syria", said Rouhani.

Turkey says it fears a massacre and it cannot accommodate any more refugees flooding over its border.




A top United States envoy said there was "lots of evidence" that chemical weapons were being prepared by Syrian government forces in Idlib.

Mr Erdogan said an attack would "result in disaster, massacre and humanitarian drama".

Turkey supports Syria's rebels, while Russian Federation and Iran are key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The parties involved in the conflict of Idlib should practice "patience and use wisdom" to solve the issue in Idlib, Erdogan said in an address to a summit in the capital Tehran attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The spokesman for the Turkish president has criticized world players for their lack of action to stop a looming offensive against the last remaining rebel stronghold in northwestern Syria. "It's all a media war", said 50-year-old former construction worker Jaafar Abu Ahmad from a rural area near Ma'arat al-Nuaman town.

Mr Putin repeated a regular Russian claim that rebel forces might stage a chemical attack to draw Western strikes down on Assad's troops.

According to Hadhifa, the intensified bombardment of southern Idlib and northern Hama provinces is aimed at frightening the civilian population. The UN says the region is home to some 2.9 million people, including a million children.

And in a sign of the administration's shrinking commitment to Syria, it has pulled more than $200 million in stabilization funding for liberated areas, telling other nations they should step up to pay. "We have irrefutable evidence that militants are preparing such operations, such provocations". It also said Syrian forces have used chemical weapons, including chlorine, more than two dozen times during the war.

The town is run by Kurdish-led administrators and forces, but Syrian government troops hold pockets of territory there, including the airport.

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