Published: Tue, September 04, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Top U.S. general warns against major assault on Syria's Idlib

Top U.S. general warns against major assault on Syria's Idlib

"Don't let that happen!"

Russian Federation resumed air strikes against insurgents in Idlib province on Tuesday after a hiatus of several weeks, according to a Syrian rebel and a war monitor.

Separately, the United Nations special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said he was "determined" to hold talks with high-level envoys from Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, despite concerns that an offensive on Idlib may begin before then.

Trump on Monday sent a tweet warning the Syrian government and its allies against a "reckless attack" on the rebel-held Idlib province.

Syrian rebel fighters prepare for an upcoming government offensive, in the countryside of the rebel-held northern Idlib province, on September 3, 2018.

Rebels said the strikes had mostly targeted military positions of the Islamist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the Turkistan Islamic Party in the Jisr al-Shughour district, although at least three civilians were reported to have been killed.

The U.S. has provided material support for various rebel groups in Syria in their fight against Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies.

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Last week, Iran's defense minister traveled to Damascus and signed an agreement for defense cooperation between the two countries with his Syrian counterpart.

"Just to speak out with some warnings, without taking into account the very unsafe, negative potential for the whole situation in Syria, is probably not a full, comprehensive approach", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, apparently in reference to Trump's comment.

Elsewhere in his Tuesday remarks, Zarif also pointed to his last week's talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Istanbul as well as a planned summit of Iranian, Russian and Turkish presidents in Tehran and said efforts would be continued to "prevent any damage to the Syrian people and complete the process of clearing extremists".

Tehran and Moscow have provided steady political, financial and military backing to Assad throughout the war, which has left over 350,000 people dead since it broke out in 2011.

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, said an all-out assault on Idlib and its catastrophic consequences could still be avoided. Restoration of Damascus's control of this province will put an end to large-scale military confrontation in Syria.

A series of recent strikes in Syria that have killed Iranians has been attributed to Israel.

While he quickly backed away from talk of an immediate withdrawal, his underlying determination to leave Syria's seven-year war as soon as possible seems unchanged.

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