Russian Federation resumes strikes on Syria's Idlib after 22-day break

Russian Federation resumes strikes on Syria's Idlib after 22-day break

Russian Federation resumes strikes on Syria's Idlib after 22-day break

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford attends a meeting of the National Space Council in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 18, 2018.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was in Damascus on September 3 for talks with President Bashar al-Assad and other Syrian officials ahead of an expected military offensive by Syrian government forces in Idlib Province, the last opposition stronghold in Syria.

They are home to some three million civilians.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there was no doubt about the risks to civilians given Idlib's terrain and hard operating environment.

The bombardment ends weeks of relative calm in Idlib, amid concerns that the Syrian government and its allies are preparing to launch a massive aerial and ground assault on rebel positions in Idlib province, now Syria's last major opposition-held enclave.

Last week, Russian Federation said a military operation was needed to flush out "terrorists" from the area who have been blamed for targeting coastal army bases.

Dunford recommended more tailored operations against the militants.

An opposition source and the Observatory both said the air strikes were in the countryside near Jisr al-Shughour on the western edge of the opposition's northwestern territory.

The pontiff said there were still "winds of war" and "unsettling news about the risk of a possible humanitarian catastrophe in the province of Idlib".

Peskov also said the situation in and around Idlib Province will be a main item on the agenda when President Vladimir Putin meets in Tehran on September 7 with the leaders Iran and Turkey.

Last year, they had designated Idlib as a "de-escalation" zone where violence would halt in preparation for a countrywide ceasefire.

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, said an all-out assault on Idlib and its catastrophic consequences could still be avoided.

"In order to start the peace process as well as the return of refugees and to allow the start of the reconstruction phase in Syria, the remaining terrorists in parts of Idlib must be cleaned out", Zarif said.

"By backing an all-out offensive, Russian Federation risks undermining its long-term political objectives in Syria", ICG wrote in a nine-page briefing.

Earlier this week, Israel reiterated its threat to hit Iranian military targets in Syria.

But Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday signalled strikes could be extended to Iraq if necessary.

Syrian government enjoyed support from Russian air force, Iranian advisors and Hezbollah militants during the operations.

The Red Crescent, like other aid organisations in Turkey, was "taking necessary measures in this regard, whether within Syria or within Turkey", he said.

In July, Syria accused Israel of bombing a military post in the northern province of Aleppo, where the Observatory reported at least nine pro-regime fighters died.

Trump has sought better relations with Russian Federation since taking office in 2017 but the United States has been unable to rein in Moscow's military and diplomatic support for Assad.

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