Russia Resumes Air Strikes Against Rebels in Idlib, Say Monitors

Explosions at a Syrian military airport close to Damascus

The visit comes days before the leaders of Iran, Turkey, and Russian Federation are expected to meet in Iran to discuss the situation in Idlib.

"President Bashar al Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province".

Syria has been at war since early 2011 with a multitude of parties including pro-government forces, rebel groups and militants all fighting for control over various areas.

Seized from government forces in 2015, Idlib and adjacent areas form the last major chunk of territory still in rebel hands. Idlib is Syria's sole large region remaining in the hands of illegal armed groups. "However we can not say there is no gateway to reconciliation".

They are home to some three million civilians.

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Turkey, which has long supported anti-Assad rebels, has cooperated with Russian Federation and Iran on talks over Syria in recent years and has troops in the Idlib region on an observation mission.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated Russia's position, calling Idlib a "hornets" nest of terrorists'.

Iran echoed that theme.

"Just to speak out with some warnings, without taking into account the very unsafe, negative potential for the whole situation in Syria, is probably not a full, comprehensive approach", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at a press conference in the capital Moscow.

"It goes without saying that this problem (terrorists in Idlib) must be straightened out".

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A top USA general estimated there were 20,000-30,000 militants in Idlib, but said if there were major military operations "we can expect humanitarian catastrophe", and urged operations that mitigated the risks to civilians.

It also said talks were under way to establish a humanitarian corridor for civilians to leave Idlib. He said he had heard reports that Damascus had set a September 10 deadline for diplomacy to work before attacking.

Turkey has expressed fears of a potential humanitarian crisis on its borders. According to the UN Secretary-General's special envoy Staffan de Mistura, about 10,000 militants from Jabhat al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda (both outlawed in Russia) are in this area. "We're going to be much more measured". "Now talks are ongoing between our soldiers, intelligence agencies and foreign ministries about what kind of steps could be taken", he said in Ankara late on Monday.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on a visit to Syria, told Iranian state television: "Our efforts are for. the exit of terrorists from Idlib to be carried out with the least human cost".

"Just to speak out with some warnings, without taking into account the very risky, negative potential for the whole situation in Syria, is probably not a full, comprehensive approach", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

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Last week, a source close to Damascus said the government was preparing a phased offensive to recover Idlib province, but Turkey, whose army has a string of observation posts around the edge of the rebel area, has warned against such an assault.

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