Iran, Russia, Turkey presidents meet in high-stakes summit

Nazeer AL-KHATIB

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley sent another strong warning to Bashar al Assad's Syrian regime at the United Nations Friday.

In addition to opposition forces who have sworn to fight to the death, Idlib is also home to nearly 3 million civilians who will be caught up in the battle.

Idlib is the last major area held by rebels in Syria.

"We never want Idlib to turn into a bloodbath", Erdogan told a Tehran summit in Damascus with his Iranian and Russian counterpar that is expected to determine the province's fate.

Russian Federation and Iran have rejected Turkey's call for a ceasefire in Syria's last rebel enclave despite President Erdogan's warnings that civilians would be massacred in any attack.

Similar demonstrations were held in Idlib's towns of Khan Sheikhun and Jisr al-Shughur, as well as opposition-held areas in the neighboring provinces of Hama and Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

"Intensified fighting in the vast Idlib area will put tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people on the move", Fabrizzio Carboni, regional director for the Near and Middle East, said in a statement. "We can turn it off and start a new process in Syria if the worldwide community gets serious about the Syrian war and shows that they do care about the Syrian people".

None of Turkey's options look good, adds Aydıntaşbaş, as it faces both a humanitarian "catastrophe" and a result that could "forever alter the dynamics of the Syrian war - in favor of the regime".

America's top general on Saturday said he was involved in "routine dialogue" with the White House about military options should Syria ignore US warnings against using chemical weapons in an expected assault on the enclave of Idlib.

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Even American airstrikes launched against the Assad government have had limited impact in the past. "Millions will be coming to Turkey's borders because they have nowhere to go".

Vladimir Putin had earlier rejected Erdoğan's calls for a ceasefire in Idlib, the last opposition stronghold in Syria.

As they discussed the fate of Idlib, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley was talking tough in NY, telling the Security Council that the United States would consider any assault on the province as a "dangerous escalation" of the conflict that has already claimed more than 400,000 lives and forced more than 5 million Syrians to flee the country.

James Jeffrey, who was named "representative for Syria engagement" by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said American troops will now be tasked with ensuring the exit of all Iranian military personnel and helping to build (as the Post puts it) "a stable, nonthreatnening government acceptable to all Syrians and the worldwide community". Now, major patrons Moscow and Iran are looking to consolidate gains as the battle in Idlib approaches. Stop Assad's assault on Idlib.

The town is run by Kurdish-led administrators and forces, but Syrian government troops hold pockets of territory there, including the airport.

Mostafa said he had lost two brothers during the war, one killed by Isil and the other by the regime. Clashes rarely erupt there over turf control and authority, and are usually a reflection of deepening political tension between the uneasy partners.

A journalist and local resident, Arin Sheikmos, told Associated Press the government security troops carried out an arrest campaign in Kurdish-controlled areas, detaining people it accused of dodging military conscription.

Black said he and Assad spent three hours in the president's office, in a mostly upbeat discussion about how the country has fared since the senator's last visit.

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