USA has seen evidence of Syria preparing chemical weapons in Idlib -envoy

Posted September 07, 2018

President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Hassan Rouhani of Iran and Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey meet in Tehran.

The battle for Syria's Idlib province looms large in what could prove to be the bloodiest conflict yet in this long and painful civil war.

"We must put more effort into developing, strengthening, and reinforcing our relations in all fields", Erdogan noted, stressing the need for increased banking cooperation and use of national currencies in bilateral trade.

On Friday, Russian and Syrian fighter jets continued to bomb various areas of southern Idlib province, activists said.

Putin's opposition to Erdogan was reflected by Iranian President Rouhani, who underlined that the government forces must regain control over entire Syrian territory.

The president said Turkey has been making efforts to help end bloodshed in Syria since the beginning and that his country does not want any Syrian brother to even suffer a "nose bleed".

"We hope that we will be able to reach an agreement and that our call for reconciliation in the Idlib area will be heard", the Russian president said.

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"We are firmly under the impression our Western partners are stoking hysteria around Idlib, and in any way are attempting to prevent the fall of the last major terrorist stronghold in Syria", said Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia. The Syrian regime has been repeatedly accused of using chemical weapons in the long conflict.

For his part, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani demanded an immediate withdrawal by American forces in the country.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was ridiculed by the "fake news" Trump thanks North Korea's Kim for promise to denuclearize during his tenure No NFL players visibly kneel during season opener MORE has approved a new strategy for Syria that will indefinitely leave about 2,000 USA troops there indefinitely, according to The Washington Post.

There are tens of thousands of rebels in Idlib Province, which borders Turkey.

TRT World's Melinda Nucifora reports from Tehran.

Iran, Russia and Turkey all have their own competing interests over Syria.

Iran wants to keep its foothold in the Mediterranean nation neighbouring Israel and Lebanon. An estimated 10,000 Al-Qaeda-linked fighters are among those rebels, and Idlib is also home to about 3 million civilians - almost half of them displaced from other parts of Syria. That also includes an estimated 10,000 hard-core fighters, including al-Qaida-linked militants.

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She also said the United States would not consider reconstruction aid for Syria until it sees "concrete results from a genuine political process that ends the war and offers freedom to the Syrian people".

In regaining control over other parts of Syria in the a year ago, Russian-brokered surrender deals offered safe passage for tens of thousands of rebels and their families to Idlib, which is why the province became the last bastion of the armed resistance.

For Turkey, the stakes couldn't be higher. Ankara also has hundreds of troops manning 12 observation posts in Idlib.

Noting that Turkey hosts 3.5 million refugees, he said: "Idlib's population is now 3.5 million". Naji al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the Turkey-backed National Front for Liberation, said before the summit that his forces were prepared for a battle that they expect will lead to a major humanitarian crisis.

Early Friday, a series of airstrikes hit villages in southwest Idlib, targeting insurgent posts and killing five people, including a civilian, said Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Abdurrahman said suspected Russian warplanes carried out the attack.

Russian officials have said "terrorist" groups should be "liquidated", but the Russian military has also said it is seeking to separate out extremist fighters from other rebel groups supported by Turkey.

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