USA sees assault on Idlib as escalation of Syria conflict: Pompeo

USA sees assault on Idlib as escalation of Syria conflict: Pompeo

USA sees assault on Idlib as escalation of Syria conflict: Pompeo

More than 350,000 people have been killed, and more than 11 million have fled their homes.

The area, which has been controlled by rebels since 2015, has been targeted by government and Russian Federation air and artillery strikes for months, devastating infrastructure such as schools and hospitals.

"The situation in Idlib is sensitive", Zarif told state TV.

Idlib and the surrounding area is home to some 3 million people - almost half of them, including Alhamdo, already displaced a couple of times by the civil war - choosing to live in opposition areas. "Not good. The world is watching".

It also called on residents to take to the streets after Friday prayers against an offensive and in support of the fighters. "If the Russians and the Syrian government attack Idlib, the door to Hell will open in the region because of all the Syrian dissident terrorists gathered in Idlib and its suburbs", said one of Syrian. Moves by Assad risk pitting Russian-backed Syrian forces against Turkish soldiers.

"The US sees this as an escalation of an already risky conflict", Pompeo said in a post on Twitter in which he also blasted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for "defending (the) Syrian and Russian assault".

United States officials claim they are anxious that an impending assault by Syria forces on the terrorists in Idlib could involve the use of chemical weapons, an issue that Damascus has dismissed as false lies by Washington. In addition, Russian experts are among the Syrians.

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There were also reports that terrorist factions in Idlib were literally setting the stage for a false flag chemical "incident".

While the government has yet to declare a start date for an offensive, the Syrian army has deployed thousands of ground forces and dozens of armoured units along the southern borders of Idlib.

They would involve anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and anti-mining exercises. He announced his readiness to go to Idlib to help provide safe passage out for civilians. Lavrov last week described Idlib as a "festering abscess" that needed to be drained.

Speaking to Russia's RT news channel on Saturday, Muallem said British intelligence services had helped terrorists of the Nusra Front group to transfer gas canisters to areas in Idlib that are now controlled by the so-called White Helmet troops. But the strongest alliance of fighters is led by an al-Qaida-linked group that controls most of the area that is also home to some 3 million people. Two points can be drawn from the words of the UN Representative for the Syrian affairs: first, the description of the Tahrir al-Sham (Jabhat al-Nusra) group as a terrorist group, which can be considered a green light to break them up and exclude them from any settlement plans.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend a three-way summit in Tehran on September, 7, with the leaders of Turkey and Iran, his spokesman said on Friday.

Despite Turkey's opposition to the offensive, security and foreign policy analysts predict that it will proceed, as previous ones have, with Ankara's tacit acceptance.

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