World

Last-ditch talks to avert battle for Syria’s Idlib

Last-ditch talks to avert battle for Syria’s Idlib

Syria's foreign minister said Thursday Western aggression would not prevent Damascus from retaking all Syrian territory, amid fears of an imminent government offensive against the rebel-held province of Idlib.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said "terrorists" must be wiped out in Idlib, accusing them of using civilians as human shields.

Russian Federation has given Assad crucial support throughout the seven-year war in Syria, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and uprooted millions since it began with a government crackdown on protesters in March 2011.

While Turkey actively sponsors rebel forces in Idlib, its influence over the former Al-Qaeda affiliate is less clear and Abdel Rahman warned the chances of success were slim.

The campaign for Idlib is likely to be the last major theater of battle after seven years of brutal civil war.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday his country was engaged in talks with Iran and Russian Federation to avoid a humanitarian calamity in Idlib.

The announcement comes as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow's ally, appears to be preparing a major assault to regain control of Idlib Province, the last major stronghold of Syrian Sunni rebels. The country has been consumed by war since demonstrations broke out against Assad in 2011.

Peskov called Idlib a hotbed of terrorists and said not tackling the problem was not a good option.

"We need to reduce the risk of unexpected escalation, and definitely look with great concern about any potential use of chemical weapons or any type of weaponized chlorine", he said.

The majority of the refugees fled to countries in the region, including Turkey (3.5 million), Lebanon (976,000), Jordan (668,000), Iraq (249,000), and Egypt (130,000).

The Russian defense ministry said more than 25 warships and support vessels and around 30 planes, including fighter jets and strategic bombers, would take part in the Mediterranean drills which it said would last from September 1 to September 8.

The United States has warned it would respond to a chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces with retaliatory strikes, stressing that the attacks would be stronger than those conducted by American, British and French forces back in April.

The United Nations has called on Russia, Iran and Turkey to delay a battle that could affect millions of civilians.

The group will work out a set of tasks for anti-aircraft and anti-subversive and sabotage defense as well as protection against mines, the ministry said.


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