Turkey looks for diplomatic solution to avoid 'massacre' in Syria's Idlib

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According to an excerpt from the book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, the USA president told Defense Secretary James Mattis that he meant to assassinate the Syrian leader, after Washington accused the government in Damascus of a suspected chemical weapons attack against the militant-held village of Khan Shaykhun in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib past year.

The human rights group Amnesty International said in a statement on Wednesday that the lives of "millions of people in Idlib are now in the hands of Russia, Turkey and Iran", and urged all parties not to attack civilians.

On Tuesday, the Kremlin said the Syrian Army is getting ready to solve the problem of "terrorism" in Idlib, apparently referring to a looming regime offensive.

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The US says it will respond "swiftly and appropriately" if Syrian President Bashar Assad uses chemical weapons "again", suggesting that Damascus was behind an April "attack" which Moscow says was entirely staged.

Located near the Turkish border, Idlib is home to more than 3 million Syrians, many of whom fled from other cities following attacks by regime forces. The UN's Syria peace envoy Staffan de Mistura said Russian Federation and Turkey held "the key for (a) soft solution to the Idlib issue" and urged them to help avert a humanitarian disaster.

The UN's Syria peace envoy, Staffan de Mistura, called on Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to urgently speak on the phone even before they are set to meet with their Iranian counterpart in Tehran on Friday.

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The verbal clash came as towns and villages in the northern Idlib province, where Syria's rebels are holed up, came under intense airstrikes, killing at least eight people, according to a search and rescue group and a conflict monitoring group. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.

The Syrian military has been sending reinforcements to the area for more than a month, and Russian Federation has ramped up its rhetoric.

In April 2017, the U.S. military attacked a Syrian government airfield near Homs with 59 Tomahawk missiles in response to a chemical weapons attack.

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The Trump administration announced Tuesday afternoon that Russian Federation and Syria are gearing up to launch a mass strike in Syria on behalf of embattled President Bashar al-Assad, risking the lives of "millions of innocent civilians", according to an announcement. "We're going to be much more measured", Woodward wrote.