Published: Thu, September 06, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Turkey brands al-Qaida group in Syria terrorists

Turkey brands al-Qaida group in Syria terrorists

Russian officials have said they have evidence that terrorists in Idlib are now preparing to conduct a false-flag chemical weapons attack in order to spark a military intervention by the United States and its allies.

It was not immediately clear whether Turkey's decision to update its list of terror groups to include HTS could indicate a green light from Ankara for a possible Russian-backed regime operation into Idlib.

Turkey already considered the Nusra Front terrorists but the group rebranded itself in January 2017 and merged with other jihadist groups under the Levant Liberation Committee. 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.

France's foreign minister says Syrian President Bashar Assad has won his country's civil war but won't "win the peace" without a political solution brokered by the worldwide community.

Assad's office said in a statement: "The two sides asserted that the pressures from some Western states on Syria and Tehran will not deter the two countries from continuing to defend their principles". "But he hasn't won the peace".

Moreover, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Thursday that the White Helmets had also kidnapped 44 children to stage an incident with chemical weapons in Syria's Idlib.

The campaign for Idlib is likely to be the last major theater of battle after seven years of brutal civil war.

Pope Francis on Sunday called on the worldwide community to ensure the safety of civilians in Syria's Idlib province, one of the last opposition-held territories in the conflict-ridden nation.

Pope Francis is pressing for negotiations to avoid a "humanitarian catastrophe" from a looming battle in Syria.

"I renew my heartfelt appeal to the global community and all the actors involved to use the tools of diplomacy, dialogue and negotiation to ensure the respect of worldwide human rights and to safeguard civilian lives", he added.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced in the conflict, according to the UN.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian forces have deployed at least 2,000 armored vehicles along the front lines surrounding Idlib and Hama.

Yet in recent days, Russian officials and Syrian media have accused activists of preparing to launch a chemical attack, with Kfar Zita as its staging ground, and blame Damascus, prompting western retaliation.

A war monitor says Russian Federation resumed air strikes on the opposition and rebel-held Syrian province on Tuesday.

But analysts still say the United States appears resigned to the likelihood of a final military victory by Syrian regime forces.

An attack on Idlib would be a "singular catastrophe", according to the Soufan Group, a New York-based company providing security analysis to governments and organizations. Israel rarely acknowledges such strikes, but has recently targeted suspected Iranian posts inside Syria.

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