United Nations envoy calls for opening evacuation routes from Syria's Idlib

Syrian government forces attack rebel-held city

Syrian government forces attack rebel-held city

The attacks come amid repeated warnings from the US against an all-out assault by Syria's Russian-backed forces to retake Idlib, the last major area held by the armed opposition in Syria.

Erdogan as well as the presidents of Iran and Russian Federation will meet on Friday in Tehran for a summit expected to focus on Idlib.

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. A government assault creates a nightmare scenario of potentially hundreds of thousands of people, including militants, fleeing toward its border and destabilizing towns and cities in northern Syria under its control.

In a statement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that "millions of innocent people in Idlib province are now under the threat of imminent attack from the Assad regime, backed by Iran and Russian Federation, under the pretense of targeting ISIS".

Putin - travelling with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, and foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov - met with Erdogan before the trilateral talks.

A Syrian rebel fighter rests at an unknown location in Idlib province, September 5, 2018.

Hmeimim is home to Russia's main military base in northwestern province of Latakia.

Neighbouring Turkey has limited sway over the jihadists who control an estimated 60% of the province but it backs rebel groups there and has 12 military "observation points" across the province.

Faced with USA demands Iranian forces pull out of Syria Rouhani stated it is the U.S. that should withdraw its forces out of Syria.

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While Turkish leader Erdogan proposed a ceasefire in the rebel-dominated bastion of Idlib in northwestern parts of Syria, President Putin affirmed that Russian Federation opposes the call for any truce with the rebels in the hope that the rebels opposing Assad's rule "would have the common sense to lay down their weapons and surrender".

Idlib is dominated by the jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, led by the former Al-Qaeda branch in Syria.

At the time, Trump said the targeted airfield had launched the chemical attack on a rebel-held area. "The United States will continue to target those who facilitate transactions with the murderous Assad regime and support ISIS". He said that "any offensive is to us objectionable as a reckless escalation" of the war. Turkey already hosts 3.5 million Syrian refugees and has sealed its borders to newcomers.

"The least the summit can do is to prevent this military war", he said.

Erdogan continued by saying that a rational solution in Idlib that will address everyone's concerns needs to found.

"Turkey has limited options but to concede to Russian Federation on Idlib given the diplomatic row with Washington and the recent USA decision to solidify Kurdish control of northern Syria", said Joe Macaron, a fellow at the Washington-based Arab Center. The terrorist group has lost most of the territory it once held there, but US and coalition forces continue to try to rout them from their remaining pockets in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. "There are a million children".

He said the worldwide community must pay heed to the issues of the Syrian refugees' return to their homeland and the reconstruction of the war-stricken country, adding, "The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to play its constructive role in this regard".

Their previous meetings in Sochi and Ankara established so-called de-escalation zones in several areas, including Idlib, that temporarily reduced violence.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that dropping bombs and missiles on Syria's last rebel-held province of Idlib could cause a "massacre", in remarks published Wednesday.

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