Russia Opposes Turkey's Calls for Truce in Idlib

White House pledges to 'respond swiftly' if Assad uses chemical weapons again

White House pledges to 'respond swiftly' if Assad uses chemical weapons again

The Turkish president was speaking at a summit in Tehran with Iran and Russia's leaders, where they met to discuss the fate of the rebel-held province of Idlib.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he's concerned about a bloodbath in Idilb, which could send a stream of refugees into Turkey. Rouhani focused on reconstruction and the need for Syria's displaced to return home, while also calling for the United States to immediately withdraw.

Idlib is one of the so-called "de-escalation" zones set up as a result of talks by Russia, Turkey and Iran previous year as Damascus regained control of more of the country. Erdogan's efforts to reverse this played out live with the leaders and their delegations assembled around a giant white table as the press cameras continued, inexplicably, to roll.

Pro-government forces backed by Russian Federation and Iran have been shelling the rebel enclave for two straight days.

On Friday, Erdogan said steps would be taken to prevent further migration from Syria.

"Any attack launched or to be launched on Idlib will result in a disaster, massacre and a very big humanitarian tragedy". Any fight against terrorists requires methods based on time and patience.

"In the third point of the joint statement it's clearly stated - we have considered the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone and have chose to seek a path to regulate the situation there", Putin said.

Northwestern Idlib province and surrounding areas are home to about three million people, almost half of them civilians displaced from other parts of Syria.

In the final statement, the three agreed on the need to eliminate Islamic State, the Nusra Front, and other groups linked to al Qaeda and designated as terrorists.

People in Syria's northwestern Idlib province are protesting against a possible regime offensive.

Russian Federation also wants to maintain its regional presence to fill the vacuum left by America's long uncertainty about what it wants in the conflict.

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"We consider as unacceptable the wish to move terrorists away from the blow at the pretext of protecting civilian population, as well as to inflict damage to the Syrian government forces", he said. "You add to that, if you use chemical weapons, or create refugee flows or attack innocent civilians", and "the consequences of that are that we will shift our positions and use all of our tools to make it clear that we'll have to find ways to achieve our goals that are less reliant on the goodwill of the Russians".

Putin offered no evidence to back his claim.

As the conflict approaches its endgame, Iran, Turkey and Russian Federation are seeking to safeguard their own interests after investing heavily militarily and diplomatically in Syria.

Responding to Erdogan's proposal for a cease-fire in Idlib, Putin said "a cease-fire would be good" but indicated that Moscow does not believe it will hold.

"We hope that we will be able to reach an agreement and that our call for reconciliation in the Idlib area will be heard", the Russian president said.

There was no immediate reaction from fighters in Idlib.

"Idlib is about a lot of global power play and everyone is looking after their interests", al-Mustafa said.

Even as the leaders assembled in Tehran, Syrian fighter jets pounded militant targets in the province, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group. Abdurrahman said suspected Russian warplanes carried out the attack.

The use of national currencies in bilateral trade is what Iran, Russia, China, and Turkey are pursuing in a bid to ditch the USA dollar in their business relations. Although the US has about 2,000 troops and outposts in Syria, President Donald Trump has said he wants to pull those forces out after the war against the Islamic State group dislodged the extremists from vast territories it once held there and in Iraq.

The United Nations Security Council met to discuss Idlib on Friday at the request of the United States, and U.N. Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura said there were "all the ingredients for a flawless storm".

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