Erdogan urges Russia, Iran to stop 'disaster' in Idlib

Pentagon ‘routinely’ briefs Trump on ‘military options’ in case of chemical attack in Syria

On Sunday, government forces bombed the village of Hobeit in Idlib province, killing an infant girl and wounding several other civilians, the Syrian Civil Defence search-and-rescue group said.

On Monday, the head of the United Nations humanitarian agency, Mark Lowcock, warned that Idlib could see "the worst humanitarian catastrophe, with the biggest loss of life of the 21st century".

Government forces, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, have been massing troops for weeks in preparation for an attack on Idlib province that is the last major rebel stronghold in the country.

Haley accused Russian Federation and Iran of having little interest in a political solution and called their actions those of "cowards interested in a bloody military conquest".

Idlib province and adjacent rural areas form the largest piece of territory still held by Syria's beleaguered rebels, worn down by a succession of government victories in recent months. It said the violence was the "most intense" in weeks, with helicopters also dropping barrel bombs packed with shrapnel.

"Russia is reminding Turkey it needs to stay in Russia's good graces if Turkey wants to avoid a painful catastrophe in northwest Syria", said the researcher at the Center for New American Security.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis declined to say Tuesday whether the United States would take military action against the Syrian regime should it use chemical weapons, but he did say Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has "been warned".

Hundreds of civilians have fled villages near the front line in Syria's Idlib province fearing an imminent regime assault on the country's last major opposition and rebel bastion, a monitor said.

A militant from an unspecified group stationed in Idlib has issued a threat to Turkish President Recep Tayyip, warning that militants in northwestern Syria have dug a tunnel stretching into Turkey's Hatay province.

The renewed strikes came a day after the leaders of rebel backer Turkey and regime allies Russian Federation and Iran failed at the summit in Tehran to agree on how to stave off a threatened offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib.

State-run Al-Ikhbariya TV said the government was retaliating against overnight shelling from rebel-held areas on a government-held town in Hama province, south of Idlib.

An influx of displaced people has roughly doubled the Idlib region's population to around 2.9 million people in recent years.

The footage was filmed by several Middle Eastern news channel crews and one unnamed USA broadcaster, the Defense Ministry said.

"A major item on the summit's agenda was discussion of efforts to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons".

The Journal reports almost two dozen civilians have died in the most recent attacks.

Russian Federation has said it wants all militants to be pushed out of Idlib and that it avoids civilians and targets only radical al Qaeda-inspired groups.

Syria has been ravaged since 2011 by a complex civil war, implicating many foreign powers, that has claimed more than 350,000 lives to date.

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