Published: Fri, August 31, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Syria has right to chase terrorists out of Idlib: Russia

Syria has right to chase terrorists out of Idlib: Russia

The clock is ticking as allied Russian Federation builds its forces offshore in a warning to the United States not to gamble on any last-ditch move to stave off what Moscow called the impending "liquidation" of the rebel-held province.

With rebels defeated in most of Syria, such an offensive could prove to be the last big battle of the civil war.

While Turkey actively sponsors rebel forces in Idlib, its influence over the former Al-Qaeda affiliate is less clear and Abdel Rahman warned the chances of success were slim. Northern Fleet's Marshal Ustinov missile cruiser will lead the naval task force participating in the drills, Korolev said.

Turkey, which backs a number of opposition factions in Syria and has set up observation points that ring the rebel stronghold, has been seeking to curtail a full-scale offensive.

In comments published on its propaganda agency Ibaa, HTS appeared to leave the door open to a negotiated settlement.

An estimated 2,000 USA military personnel remain inside Syria and have clashed with Russian and Russian-backed forces.

At a Thursday press conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem all but guaranteed an offensive is in the works to claim the last major enclave inside Syria not under Mr. Assad's control.

It also risks raising tensions with Turkey, whose army established a ring of observation posts around the rebel territory past year under a "de-escalation" deal with Russian Federation and Iran.

Cem Devrim Yalalı, who monitors military navigation along the Turkish Straits, says Russian Federation has in recent days sent 11 new vessels into the Mediterranean, almost doubling its naval presence.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said "terrorists" must be wiped out in Idlib, accusing them of using civilians as human shields.

In the meantime, the government is amassing its forces around the province, and Russia has positioned at least 10 warships and two submarines off the coast, according to Russian media reports.

Turkey opposes a large-scale offensive in Idlib, fearing an attack could not only cost thousands of lives but prompt a new wave of displacement across the Turkish border.

The office of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday warned of the growing risk of a humanitarian catastrophe, and called for restraint.

Concern is mounting meanwhile over the potential use of chemical weapons, and the Russian navy is building up its presence in the Mediterranean Sea.

"I am once again prepared. personally and physically to get involved ensure such a temporary corridor would be feasible", Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva. They don't think any armed group in [Idlib] city is different than others, they consider them all terrorists.

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