The conquest of Idlib will allow Syrian leader Bashar Assad to regain full control of the country and the Teheran summit meeting between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is where the future of Syria is now being discussed.
Instead, it further highlighted the stark differences between allies of convenience in Syria's 7-year-old war, the topic of a summit that did not see embattled President Bashar Assad directly represented.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned against a "scorched earth" policy, but said "fighting terrorism in Idlib is an unavoidable".
To justify keeping American troops in Syria for an "indefinite" period of time, the Trump administration's new strategy redefines us "objectives" in the country from "defeating ISIS" to ejecting all Iranian military forces and proxies from the country-despite the fact that Iran's presence in Syria, unlike America's, is at the invitation of the Syrian government. "Any attack on Idlib in the name of eliminating terrorist groups would undermine the Astana process", he added. "We don't want Idlib to turn into a bloodbath", he said. There are an estimated 30,000 rebel fighters still in the area, including some 10,000 al-Qaeda-linked militants.
The US military strategists have found what they call a "better, more focused way" to do counterterrorism operations in Idlib, the US Department of Defense said in statement on Saturday. He also charged militants in Idlib province with preparing their own chemical weapons attacks.
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Putin ominously accused Western forces of protecting terrorists and faking chemical weapons attacks to discredit the Syrian regime.
Erdogan called on Putin and Rouhani to agree to a ceasefire in Idlib, saying such an accord would be a "victory" of their summit. "We hope that the representatives of those terrorist organizations will be smart enough to stop the resistance and lay down arms".
Up to 30,000 rebel and jihadist fighters are thought to be entrenched in Idlib province. Now, if they continue to ignore them, Assad can expect "dire consequences".
"Idlib is about a lot of global power play and everyone is looking after their interests", al-Mustafa said.
On Friday morning, Russian air raids targeted rebel positions in the southwest of the province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
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Jeffrey said the U.S.is taking a tougher stance and will not tolerate an all-out attack on the region.
The White Helmets, a team of first responders, said it also recorded the four killed in Abdeen.
Ankara and Moscow back opposing sides in the northwest province of Idlib - the former the armed opposition, and the latter the government troops poised for an offensive to retake the province.
Despite his having expressed his desire to get US troops out of Syria only months ago, a report published Friday in The Washington Post claims that President Donald Trump is allegedly "on board" with a new "indefinite military and diplomatic effort in Syria".
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America's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has warned any military offensive in Idlib "would be a reckless escalation". The meeting, arranged by eight European countries, including both permanent and non-permanent members of the UN Security Council (Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden), also involved members of the Syrian Negotiations Commission. 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.