Turkey warns against Syrian government offensive on Idlib

Abu Muhammad al-Golani left told rebels not to surrender or hand over their weapons

Abu Muhammad al-Golani left told rebels not to surrender or hand over their weaponsAP

Two days later, the United States launched 59 cruise missiles against the Shayrat military base in central Syria, where Washington believes airplanes carrying chemical weapons took off.

In the view of Solmazturk, the only way for Ankara to better cope with the threat is to cooperate with Russian Federation, which, like Iran, has militarily supported the Syrian army operations against rebels.

Syrian forces, backed by Russian air power, have been deploying around Idlib and waging air raids and artillery attacks in what appears to be preparations for a major assault that Assad has promised in order to retake the province.

The Turkish foreign minister said Ankara would still rely on talks with Russian Federation and Iran, known as the Astana peace process, widely seen as an attempt to circumvent largely fruitless United Nations talks on Syria.

Last week Fidan and Akar also visited Moscow where they met with Russian officials along with Shoygu.

Lavrov, however, indicated that Moscow is losing patience with the militants, who often target government positions from there. "It would be a disaster not only for the Idlib region, but also for the future of Syria". Nonetheless rebel-backer Turkey considers "it is very important that those radical groups, terrorists are rendered ineffective", he said.

They are estimated to number tens of thousands of fighters, many of them evacuated to Idlib under cease-fire arrangements as the Assad-Russia-Iran alliance gradually regained control over other parts of Syria. As talk of a new government offensive swirled earlier this week, the leader of Syria's al-Qaida affiliate that is based in the province vowed to fight on there.

However, the planned "chemical attack" by Syrian government forces in Syria's Idlib province is actually staged by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham terrorist group, previously known as "Jabhat al-Nusra" with the help of British personnel, the ministry's spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said, citing information confirmed by several independent sources, Xinhua reported. Idlib is one of the four areas under rebel control which were designated as de-escalation zones a year ago.

Russian Federation has backed Assad's forces offensive in the south, thus breaking the agreement it signed with Russian Federation and Jordan. Most of the rebels in those zones were allowed to go to Idlib under a deal with the Syrian government.

Turkey has backed some rebel groups in the region and set up a dozen military observation posts.

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