Ceasefire talks fail as airstrikes target last rebel-held region in Syria

11 September, 2018, 03:26 | Author: Carlos George
  • Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari

The UN warned last week that such an offensive would lead to the "worst humanitarian catastrophe in the 21st century".

The Russian president Vladimir Putin has to decide if he is willing to ignore Erdoğan, and allow the Assad regime to attack as many as 60,000 Syrian opposition fighters, of which around 10,000 are not allied to Turkey, but instead follow the United Nations proscribed jihadist group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an offshoot of al-Qaeda's former branch in Syria.

Fears of a massacre have been fueled by new US intelligence indicating Mr. Assad has cleared the way for the military to use chlorine gas in any offensive, USA officials said.

People walk among damaged buildings in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, Syria, on April 16, 2018.

"We've tried to convey the message in recent days that if there's a third use of chemical weapons, the response will be much stronger", Bolton told reporters on Monday.

Delegations from the three countries will be in Geneva on Tuesday to meet the UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.

It is also home to a Turkey-backed coalition known as the National Liberation Front, as well as civilians who have left their previous homes instead of agreeing to so-called "reconciliation" agreements with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian Civil Defence, better-known as the White Helmets, have released harrowing footage showing a "double tap" air strike targeting its civil rescue workers in the rebel-held province of Idlib.

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The council will meet at Russia´s request at 11:00 am (1500 GMT) to hear the briefing as Syrian forces, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, are preparing for an all-out military assault on the rebel-held province.

"The new policy is we're no longer pulling out by the end of the year", Jeffrey said, according to the Washington Post.

President Trump has threatened to launch a massive attack against Assad if he carries out a massacre in Idlib, the WSJ reports. "The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy", Trump tweeted earlier this week.

Britain, France and the U.S. have warned Syria it will suffer a "much stronger response" if it uses chemical weapons again.

Turkey worries the violence could send hundreds of thousands of fleeing civilians to its border.

Bolton's words echo his earlier warnings in August that the U.S. would respond "very strongly" if Assad's forces were to use chemical weapons in a bit to retake Idlib. Should an attack take place, Pentagon planners have drawn up a list of possible US military responses. But the Pentagon pushed for a more measured response, USA officials said, and the idea was eventually rejected as too risky.

Jeffrey, the new Syria envoy, and Joel Rayburn, the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, likely worked hard in recent weeks to convince the president that maintaining a longer-term US presence in Syria is crucial to keeping Russian and Iranian influence in the region at bay, Dalton said.

Kurdish forces control most of Qamishli, but regime fighters and allied militiamen hold part of the city and its airport.



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