U.S. threatens to 'respond swiftly' if Assad uses chemical weapons

Aid-delivering’ Syrian rebels NYT shows warm fuzzy side of Al Qaeda in Idlib

Aid-delivering’ Syrian rebels NYT shows warm fuzzy side of Al Qaeda in Idlib

As Syrian troops massed near the northwestern region of almost three million people, the last major rebel stronghold, renewed Russian airstrikes killed at least nine civilians, according to a violence monitor.

The human rights group Amnesty International said in a statement on Wednesday that the lives of "millions of people in Idlib are now in the hands of Russia, Turkey and Iran", and urged all parties not to attack civilians.

US President Donald Trump warned Assad on Monday not to "recklessly attack" Idlib and the White House strongly cautioned him on Tuesday against using chemical weapons.

The UN says almost three million people live in Idlib and global concern has risen in recent days over a threatened regime assault to oust rebels and jihadists from the province and surrounding areas.

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His comments come as Syrian troops mass near the northwestern region of Idlib for a major assault that is raising fears of a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale not yet seen in the seven-year-old conflict. The UN's Syria peace envoy Staffan de Mistura said Russian Federation and Turkey held "the key for (a) soft solution to the Idlib issue" and urged them to help avert a humanitarian disaster. "The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy".

On Wednesday, regime artillery and rocket fire targeted several areas in the province including the HTS-held town of Jisr al-Shughur, according to the Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria.

The Syrian military has been sending reinforcements to the area for more than a month, and Russian Federation has ramped up its rhetoric. "We know that the Syrian armed forces are getting ready to solve this problem", Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, calling Idlib a "pocket of terrorism".

Cavusoglu said a common strategy was required to eliminate terrorist groups in Idlib but the continuation of attacks could be disastrous.

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In April 2017, the United States military attacked a Syrian government airfield near Homs with 59 Tomahawk missiles in response to a chemical weapons attack.

The Observatory blamed the strikes on Russian Federation, which has been waging an air campaign on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces since 2015.

FILE - U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis attends a news conference at Libertador Building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug. 15, 2018. "Let's go in. Let's kill the ... lot of them", Trump told Mattis on the phone. "We're going to be much more measured", Woodward wrote.

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