Erdogan Warns Russia, Iran Against Offensive In Syria's Idlib Province

Erdogan Warns Russia, Iran Against Offensive In Syria's Idlib Province

Erdogan Warns Russia, Iran Against Offensive In Syria's Idlib Province

A shepherd was also killed and four other people wounded in the bombardment, the observatory said, although it was not immediately clear if they were fighters or civilians.

Russian warplanes then carried out a second wave of strikes on the same target, preventing rescue workers from extracting victims from the rubble, he said.

An estimated15 to 20 percent of the 60,000 to 70,000 Syrian rebels in Idlib are believed to be terrorists and Jeffrey said the U.S. "asked repeatedly for permission" from the Russians to rid the area of the terrorists in order to avoid a mass assault.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (L) speaking on September 22, 2016 in New York; Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) during a press conference on May 15, 2018 in London; and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a televised phone-in on June 7, 2018 in Moscow.

A major assault would be devastating for the almost three million people living in the northwestern province, many of them rebels and civilians who were moved out of other areas as they came back under regime control.

Elsewhere in his address, Rouhani said joint efforts made by regional and world countries as well as the United Nations have contributed to almost ending war and bloodshed in Syria, stopping acts of terror in the country and preventing their long-term regional and global consequences.

Rouhani also said the battle in Syria would continue until militants were pushed out of the whole country, especially in Idlib, but he added that any military operations should avoid hurting civilians. "Iran and Russian Federation are the fighting forces in Syria and have brought blood and tears". "The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy".

Western powers, which never formally entered the conflict other than to back Kurdish-led militias instrumental in ousting the extremist group Islamic State (IS) from its northern stronghold in 2017, have largely watched the brewing battle in Idlib from the sidelines.

The White House has warned that the U.S. and its allies would respond "swiftly and vigorously" if government forces used chemical weapons in the widely expected offensive.

"Any offensive is to us objectionable as a reckless escalation" he said.

Turkish newspaper Sabah Gazetesi leaked highlights of the Turkish proposal on Idlib, indicating that Erdogan will propose a plan that would see Turkish forces on the ground who are already manning checkpoints around Idlib oversee the dissolution of 12 armed groups, including the former al Qaeda-affiliated group HTS. Russia, however, has accused Turkey of failing to act and has recently stepped up airstrikes in Idlib. "There are indeed many more babies than there are terrorists in Idlib".

Iranian fighters have provided critical support for Assad throughout the war.

"We believe that an agreement will be reached and our call for truce in the Idlib zone will be heard", Putin stressed after the Tehran summit between Russia, Iran and Turkey. The U.S. has some 2,000 troops in Syria.

The northwest province of Idlib borders Turkey, which has closed its borders after taking in more than three million Syrian refugees.

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