Regime fire kills pregnant woman, daughter in Syria's Idlib: monitor

06 September, 2018, 03:43 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Iranian FM in Islamabad for talks with Pakistani leadership

The state Department announced Friday evening that the two of U.S. special envoy on Syria will visit Israel, Jordan and Turkey, as Syrian government and its opponents are preparing for a final bloody battle in Idlib.

"Throughout their trip, Ambassador Jeffrey... will also address Russia's specious allegations of global plans to stage a chemical weapons attack in Syria", the release said on Friday.

Five children were among 12 civilians killed by the Daesh terrorist group in Syria last month while unidentified parties were responsible for the death of 88 civilians, including 25 children and 17 women, it added.

It was not immediately clear whether Turkey's decision to update its list of terror groups to include HTS could indicate a green light from Ankara for a possible Russian-backed regime operation into Idlib. Turkey, Russia and fellow regime backer Iran all operate "observation points" in Idlib as part of a "de-escalation" deal agreed previous year that was meant to reduce bloodshed in the province. Meanwhile, truckloads of United Nations humanitarian aid entered through the Cilvegözü Border Gate on Friday in Reyhanlı town of the Hatay province in southern Turkey to be distributed to the needy in Idlib.

While Russia and Syria in the past have often have referred to all of their armed opponents as "terrorists", in the case of Idlib, they appear to be making a distinction in a bow to Turkey, which provides backing for numerous more moderate Sunni rebels in the province and which has joined Moscow and Tehran in sponsoring Syrian peace negotiations in the past year.

"We would probably dissolve Tahrir al-Sham because it faces the pressure of Russian Federation and even Turkey".

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Hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Idlib area have nowhere to flee.

Idlib and the surrounding area is home to some 3 million people - almost half of them, including Alhamdo, already displaced a few times by the civil war - choosing to live in opposition areas.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday met with Syrian opposition head in the capital Ankara. HTS is now the most powerful armed faction in Idlib.

The Russian defense ministry said more than 25 warships and support vessels and around 30 planes, including fighter jets and strategic bombers, would take part in the Mediterranean drills which it said would last from September 1 to September 8. On Friday, however, Turkey officially declared the group a terrorist movement, a designation also used for the group by the United States and European Union. Jeffrey and Rayburn will also reiterate to their Jordanian and Turkish counterparts that the United States believes a military offensive in Idlib will escalate the crisis in Syria.

That change came days after Abu Muhammad al-Julani, the HTS leader, denounced any talk of reconciliation with the Syrian government in a video message, according to the SITE group, which monitors jihadi websites.

Assad's forces suffered serious setbacks early in the war, but Russian backing has helped them retake control of 60 percent of Syria.

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