Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Syrian President May Have Approved Gas Attack In Idlib

Pentagon ‘routinely’ briefs Trump on ‘military options’ in case of chemical attack in Syria Intense air raids reported on edge of Syria's rebel-held Idlib
Faye Gross | 12 September, 2018, 01:50

Syrian and Russian warplanes launched dozens of airstrikes on Syria's northern province of Idlib on Saturday, a monitoring group said, intensifying pressure on the country's last rebel stronghold after crisis talks yielded no progress.

A top United Nations official warned Monday that an attack on rebel-held parts in Syria's Idlib in coming months could lead to this century's worst loss of life as government forces pounded the area from the air and ground.

He said the strikes targeted positions of both rebel groups and the rival Hayat Tahrir Al Sham alliance, led by Al Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate and comprised mostly of hardline Islamist groups.

On Friday at a summit in Tehran, the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey could not agree on staving off military action in the province.

President Trump has previously warned Assad not to "recklessly attack" Idlib, calling any offensive a "grave humanitarian mistake".

It was the heaviest bombardment since August 10, when at least 53 civilians were killed in Idlib and the neighbouring province of Aleppo, he said. This prompted the clashes, which lasted no more than 20 minutes, Sheikmos said.

Syria has firmly denied claims that it's behind the attacks and instead blamed them on militant groups and foreign agents who are in Syria as aid workers.

Russia's Defense Ministry has said that a fake chemical attack on civilians has been filmed in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib.

Hundreds of civilians have fled villages near the front line in Syria's Idlib province fearing an imminent regime assault on the country's last major opposition and rebel bastion, a monitor said.

OCHA spokesman David Swanson told Reuters that as of Sunday, 30,542 people had been displaced from northwest Syria, moving to different areas across Idlib.

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"One of the major results of the Teheran summit is that its participants unanimously recognized the efficiency and topicality of the Astana format", he said.

During what was the second session on Idlib in four days, Haley told the council that "the world has seen a clear military escalation" this month by Russian Federation and the Syrian regime, whose forces have conducted more than 100 airstrikes, using "barrel bombs, rockets and artillery" in an attempt to retake the last rebel holdout after more than seven years of war.

Violence has displaced 30,000 people in Idlib and the adjacent province of Hama this month alone.

"I'm not going to tell the world ahead of time what we're going to do".

Russian Federation is due to brief the United Nations Security Council later Tuesday about the results of the Tehran summit it held with Iran and Turkey on the fate of Syria's Idlib province.

The Journal reports almost two dozen civilians have died in the most recent attacks.

More than three million people have fled to Idlib and as many as 70,000 opposition fighters are dug in there.

Erdogan called for a "truce", while Russia's president said Damascus "has a right and must eventually take under control all of its national territory".

The civil war has claimed some 350,000 lives since 2011.

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