White House: Iran, Russia Gear Up for Mass Strike in Syria

Thursday, 06 Sep, 2018

"The regime and its backers must stop their military campaign in all its forms to allow the UN-led political process to have a chance to succeed", USA ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a statement.

President Bashar al-Assad's regime has retaken large swathes of the country from rebels and militants since Russian Federation intervened militarily on its side in 2015.

More than half of Idlib is controlled by militants from Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), while much of the rest is held by rebels backed by Turkey.

De Mistura urged Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to urgently speak on the phone even before they are set to meet with their Iranian counterpart in Tehran on Friday.

The White House on Tuesday warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that if he uses chemical weapons against his people again, the USA and its allies "will respond swiftly and appropriately".

The UN Security Council is also due to meet Friday to address the situation in Idlib amid growing fears of an attack and the possible use of chemical weapons.

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Damascus, backed by allies Russian Federation and Iran, has been preparing an assault to recover Idlib and adjacent areas of the northwest, and resumed air strikes along with Russian Federation on Tuesday after weeks of lull.

On Tuesday, the White House released an official statement condemning the attacks on Idlib and threatened military force if "chemical weapons" are used.

The verbal clash came as towns and villages in the northern Idlib province, where Syria's rebels are holed up, came under intense airstrikes, killing at least eight people, according to a search and rescue group and a conflict monitoring group.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the U.S.is watching to see if the Syrian government uses chemical weapons during its offensive on the rebel-held bastion of Idlib, noting Syrian opposition fighters are not able to carry out such attacks.

Cavusoglu said a common strategy was required to eliminate terrorist groups in Idlib but the continuation of attacks could be disastrous. But he stressed that there are some 2.9 million civilians in the province, including around one million children, who "are not terrorists".

He said Turkey has conveyed to Russian Federation its condemnation of the recent attack in Syria's Idlib. The UN envoy said he did not plan to postpone two rounds of consultations next week with high-level representatives of a range of countries with influence on different sides in the conflict.