U.S. rips Russia, Iran, Assad regime amid Idlib offensive

Vladimir Putin Hassan Rouhani and Tayyip Erdogan

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose forces and proxies have remained on the sidelines in Idlib to avoid alienating Turkey, nonetheless acquiesced to Russian Federation, saying that countering terrorism in the province was "unavoidable".

Erdogan has called for a ceasefire in the northwestern province of Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in Syria, as an assault by Syrian government forces is expected any day.

Turkey, which has sent troops to Idlib and supports some of the armed groups, called for an immediate ceasefire and urged the worldwide community "to vocally and actively support our efforts to this end".

During his remarks, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia repeated the claim that "Syria has no chemical weapons", and said it would be folly on a humanitarian and political basis for the Assad regime to use chemical weapons, as it would prompt the usa and others to attack inside Syria.

Trump has twice bombed the Syrian regime over the alleged use of chemical weapons, once in April 2017 and then again earlier this year.

Abu al-Baraa al-Hamawi, a rebel leader in northern Hama, said about 95 percent of people had left a number of villages in northern and western Hama province and in southern Idlib province in the last three days due to intensive air strikes. Turkey has erected concrete barriers along the Syrian border and its army is preparing to stop new refugees within Syria, where Turkish humanitarian aid organizations are setting up camps. U.S. President Donald Trump has warned Assad against committing a "slaughter" in the Syrian province.

Now, the use of chemical weapons is a "red line" that, if crossed, will trigger US and European military response. It said the violence was the "most intense" in weeks, with helicopters also dropping barrel bombs packed with shrapnel.

"The United States followed through when we said that we would respond to the use of chemical weapons".

"I can say we've been in consultation with the British and the French, who joined us in the second strike, and they also agree that another use of chemical weapons will result in a much stronger response", Mr Bolton said.

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His remarks came as Syrian troops, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, massed around the northwestern province ahead of an expected onslaught against the largest rebel-held zone left in the country.

"Our top line message is there needs to be ways of dealing with this problem that don't turn the next few months in Idlib into the worst humanitarian catastrophe, with the biggest loss of life of the 21st century", UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock told reporters in Geneva.

HTS and rebels are also present in adjacent areas of the neighbouring provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia.

Idlib makes up a major chunk of Syria's northwest corner, the last bastion of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

The UN warned Monday at least 30,000 residents in Idlib have been displaced in the first nine days of this month amid a Russian and regime air campaign there.

An influx of displaced people has roughly doubled the Idlib region's population to around 2.9 million people in recent years. "That's something we're monitoring very closely", said David Swanson of the UN's humanitarian coordination agency (OCHA) in Amman.

Many made a dash for Syria's northern border with Turkey, with just under half seeking refuge in displacement camps and others living with local families or renting apartments.

He went on to explain that in the event of Erdogan "selling Idlib", militants will use the tunnel to cross into Turkey, to potentially carry out attacks against civilians and security forces.

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