Trump warns Syria not to 'recklessly attack' Idlib province

Trump warns Syria not to 'recklessly attack' Idlib province

An electrical fault caused a series of loud blasts early on Sunday near a military airbase outside the Syrian capital Damascus, a Syrian military source cited by state media and an Iranian official said.

Seized from government forces in 2015, Idlib and adjacent areas form the last major chunk of territory still in rebel hands.

As Syria has a strong alliance with Iran and Russian Federation, its relations with Turkey had dramatically worsened during the Syrian war as Turkey has been a major backer of the rebels in their insurgency against the rule of Assad.

"Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed", wrote President Trump.

An attack against the Syrian province's almost 3 million people, he said, would cause "a humanitarian catastrophe".

Iran called for militants to be "cleaned out" of Idlib, as it prepared for talks with Syria and Russian Federation about confronting the last major enclave held by rebels opposed to Assad.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said Washington views any government assault on Idlib as an escalation of Syria's war, and the State Department warned that Washington would respond to any chemical attack by Damascus.

The UN's Syria peace envoy called Tuesday on the Russian and Turkish presidents to urgently speak to each other to help avert a "bloodbath" in rebel-held Idlib, as a military offensive appears imminent.

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An estimated three million people - half of them displaced from other parts of Syria - live in the province and adjacent rebel-held areas.

A Syrian government minister said the siege of Idlib would probably be resolved by force.

"Idlib is a complicated issue as it is the last stronghold of rebels operating against the Syrian national government, and is also home to terrorist elements", he added.

"We don't see any way that significant military operations are going to be beneficial to the people of Syria", Dunford told reporters during a trip to Athens.

The Russian state-run news agency TASS quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov as saying on September 3 that "no one wants active hostilities that can kill civilians" in Idlib and "efforts are being taken to find a solution, first of all, to separate the opposition from [Hayat Tahrir al-Sham]".

A statement by Syria's foreign ministry said Zarif and Muallem discussed political and military developments "in preparation for the tripartite summit for guarantors of the Astana process".

Iran, Russia, and Syria often describe all their armed opponents as "terrorists".

The summit is also expected to address the situation in the northwestern Idlib province near Turkish border.