Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said here on Friday that Turkey would not allow bloodshed to take place in the northern Syrian province of Idlib. Russia's military intervention three years ago turned the tide in President Bashar al-Assad's favor at a time when he held less than a quarter of his country's territory. The preparation of U.S. military forces was condemned by Russian Federation, with its Defense Ministry describing the move as "the latest evidence of the USA intention" to take advantage of a false-flag attack. Russian Federation and Iran, as countries with influence over the regime, must stop this catastrophe.
"Most Syrians hope that Turkey's efforts will succeed in stopping an assault against Idlib and in protecting its population", said the bespectacled young man, whose home city of Aleppo was retaken by regime forces in late 2016 after a crippling siege and deadly bombardment. "We don't want Idlib to turn into a bloodbath".
However, experts from the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have said government forces were behind an attack involving the nerve agent Sarin on a rebel-held town in southern Idlib in April 2017 that killed more than 80 people.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, Russia's Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan meet in Sochi, Russia November 22, 2017.
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Smoke rising over buildings that were hit by airstrikes, in al-Sahan village, in the northern province of Idlib, Syria. "Don't let that happen!"
The US state department warned on Monday that Washington would respond to any new chemical attacks by the Syrian government or its allies. The US Treasury Department slapped sanctions on nine people and companies for assisting weapons or fuel transfers to the Assad regime on Thursday.
Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov, meanwhile, said Moscow had "irrefutable information" that Syrian rebels were planning a "provocation" in Idlib province to justify western intervention.
Even American airstrikes launched against the Assad government have had limited impact in the past.
Russia Launches Airstrikes in Syria's Rebel-Held Idlib
Erdogan added it is "vital" to protect civilians in the region, separate terrorist elements and ensure current status of Idlib. Putin's remarks on the situation in Syria tilted towards humanitarian aspects and the necessity to reconstruct the country.
"But we are in a dialogue, a routine dialogue, with the president to make sure he knows where we are with regard to planning in the event that chemical weapons are used", Dunford told reporters during a trip to India. "We have irrefutable evidence that militants are preparing such operations, such provocations".
Dunford declined to comment on US intelligence about the possible Syrian preparations of chemical agents.
Officials and analysts will be watching Idlib closely over the next week ahead of UN-led talks on Syria in Geneva on September 14.
In a Twitter thread breaking down the Trump administration's new Syria objectives on Friday, Emma Ashford-a foreign policy research fellow at the Cato Institute-argued that the White House's plan is "not a strategy".
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Meanwhile, Jim Jeffrey, Washington's special envoy to Syria, said the United States was seeing indications Assad's forces were readying chemical weapons.