Pompeo's Fingerprints Are All Over Trump's New Syria Regime Change Policy

Pompeo's Fingerprints Are All Over Trump's New Syria Regime Change Policy

Pompeo's Fingerprints Are All Over Trump's New Syria Regime Change Policy

Terrorists in the rebel-held Syrian city of Idlib have nearly completed their preparations for a provocation involving chemical weapons, Major General Igor Konashenkov stated.

For Russia and Iran, both allies of the Syrian government, retaking Idlib is crucial to complete what they see as a military victory in Syria's civil war.

The intense air raids come a day after Iran and Russian Federation backed a military campaign in the rebel-held area despite Turkey's pleas for a cease-fire.

Russian Federation and Iran have rejected Turkey's call for a ceasefire in Syria's last rebel enclave despite President Erdogan's warnings that civilians would be massacred in any attack.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based war monitor, said that Russian air raids targeted positions in Idlib's southwest held by the hard-line Ahrar al-Sham group, as well as the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Islamist alliance, which is led by a group affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

"We will not accept to leave Idlib at the mercy of the Assad regime", Al-Watan quoted Erdogan in another coverage of the summit.

Witnesses and rescuers said at least a dozen air strikes hit villages and towns in the south of the province. "If they do so, the regime can not take the area at an acceptable cost, and Idlib becomes a de-facto Turkish zone".

Dunford has warned about the potential for a humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib and instead has recommended more narrowly tailored operations against militants there.

"We all came to protest to say that we will not back down and will not return to the era of [President] Bashar Assad", said Abdurazzaq Awwad, a father-of-one in Idlib city.

He said the United States had repeatedly asked Russian Federation whether it could "operate" in Idlib to eliminate the last holdouts of Islamic State and other extremist groups.

Speaking to reporters, Jim Jeffrey, who was appointed in August as the State Department's Special Representative for Syrian Engagement, said Thursday that any such use of chemical weapons against the last rebel stronghold would be a "reckless escalation" of the conflict.

Seized from government forces in 2015, Idlib and adjacent areas form the final major chunk of Syrian territory are still under opposition control, home to some three million people, with around half of them displaced from other parts of the country, according to the United Nations.

Jeffrey, also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, went on to state that rebels in the Idlib province, where the Syrian army is expected to launch a major offensive in the coming weeks, were "not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator". Turkey's relations with the opposition made it a key partner with Russian Federation and Iran in their efforts to end the Syrian civil war under the so-called "Astana Process".

The Qatari newspaper Al-Watan gave coverage under the title "Turkish president stresses the need to resolve the issue of Idlib without new tragedies and tensions". Stop Assad's assault on Idlib.

But Hassan Hassan, a Syria expert and a fellow at the Washington-based Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, said he is doubtful an offensive is imminent, pointing to Turkey getting USA backing in opposing a major offensive.

There was no immediate comment on the clashes by the government.

The U.S-backed Kurdish administration has recently begun talking with the Syrian government - essentially seeking government recognition of its self-rule areas.

The Damascus regime has vowed to reintegrate the Kurdish-held areas, by force if necessary.

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