Top general says Trump has military options if Syria uses chemical weapons

12 September, 2018, 01:55 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Intense air raids reported on edge of Syria's rebel-held Idlib

The Wall Street Journal has just published a bombshell on Sunday evening as Russian and Syrian warplanes continue bombing raids over al-Qaeda held Idlib, citing unnamed United States officials who claim "President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has approved the use of chlorine gas in an offensive against the country's last major rebel stronghold".

In recent weeks, regime troops have massed around the northwestern region held by jihadists of Al-Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate as well as rival rebels.

Last week the French ambassador, whose country also vowed to strike Syria if what it deems credible chemical allegations emerge, said during a U.N. Security Council meeting on Idlib: "Syria is once again at the edge of an abyss".

Opposition forces in Idlib say they will fight to the end for control of the province, while Mr Assad has repeatedly vowed to regain control of all Syrian territory.

The administration is "trying to send a clear warning" to the Assad regime, said Melissa Dalton, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

A convoy of aid vehicles drives in Syria's Idlib province as they head to the government-controlled towns of Fuaa and Kafraya to deliver aid on 11 January.

It has been the target in recent days of artillery bombing by the regime forces of President Bashar al-Assad, as well as Russian airstrikes.

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.

The talks in Geneva under United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura come amid concerns that he and other United Nations officials have expressed about a looming battle for northern Idlib province - the last remaining rebel stronghold in Syria after 7 1/2 years of war that is now home to some 3 million civilians.

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The Observatory said Saturday that some 2,000 people were already on the move from areas being bombed, heading deeper into Idlib province.

The spike in violence came after Russian Federation, fellow regime ally Iran, and rebel backer Turkey on Friday failed to immediately agree on a solution to avert an imminent government offensive.

Turkey on Monday urged Syria and Russian Federation to halt all bombing on the Syrian province of Idlib, and called for a ceasefire in the region near its border.

"Every time it follows us, we escape a meter to the north and leave it up to God, where will we go?" he said.

Idlib and its surrounding area are home to some 3 million people, including more than a million civilians displaced from other parts of Syria.

It said at least four civilians were killed, including two children and a woman, a lot of them in Abdeen, a village west Khan of Sheikhoun.

Swanson said that since Friday's summit, mortar and rocket attacks had increased, especially in the northern Hama countryside and southern Idlib rural areas.

"If Assad, Russia and Iran continue down the path they are on, the consequences will be dire", she said.

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

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