Last-ditch talks to avert battle for Syria’s Idlib

Russia announces 25 WARSHIPS deployed to MEDITERRANEAN amid fears of US attack on Syria

The majority of the refugees fled to countries in the region, including Turkey (3.5 million), Lebanon (976,000), Jordan (668,000), Iraq (249,000), and Egypt (130,000).

The evacuation proposal reflected rising concerns that Idlib could become the site of the latest humanitarian disaster in a country that has faced many of them during a war that has killed over 400,000 people and driven more than 5.5 million to flee overseas.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, said in an exclusive interview with The Times that the suggestion was prompted by knowledge that an attack by President Assad's forces on the rebel stronghold in the Idlib province was imminent.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Tuesday: "Any Russian and/or Syrian regime offence on Idlib and any kind of escalation in that area, we would hold them responsible and we would hold them accountable for that, most especially, for the use of chemical weapons". "Their past gestures at humanitarian pauses and corridors have not reduced the suffering caused by Russian and regime attacks".

The US, Britain and France have warned they will respond to any use of chemical weapons in Syria.

"We are conducting joint work with the Russians and Iranians on Idlib to avoid another Aleppo disaster", Erdoğan said during a Victory Day reception at the presidential palace in Ankara on August 30.

There were still negotiations over the offensive going on between Russian Federation and Turkey, as well as with Iran which also supports Assad regime in the war, the source said.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday he was "deeply concerned about the growing risks of a humanitarian catastrophe in the event of a full-scale military operation in Idlib".

Mr.al-Muallem vowed that Syrian forces would "go all the way" to retake Idlib while insisting that the government would try to minimize civilian casualties, the Al-Jazeera network reported.

He also noted that talks were underway to set up humanitarian corridors in the militant-held province.

The fighters must be defeated, Mr de Mistura said, but not at the expense of thousands of civilian lives.

The ministry said the maneuvers will focus on antiaircraft, antisubmarine, and demining exercises.

The drills were announced after North Atlantic Treaty Organisation reported a Russian naval buildup in the Mediterranean - part of what a Russian newspaper on Tuesday called Moscow's largest naval build-up since it entered the Syrian conflict in 2015.

Russian ships and planes will hold missile-firing and gunning exercises, during the Mediterranean Sea drills in September, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Vladimir Korolev told reporters. Russian and Syrian warplanes would launch wave after wave of devastating airstrikes, before government forces besiege towns and cities, forcing residents to surrender or starve.

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