Top U.S. general warns against major assault on Syria's Idlib

Top U.S. general warns against major assault on Syria's Idlib

Top U.S. general warns against major assault on Syria's Idlib

Syrian, Russian and Iranian forces have consistently battered Islamic State forces in the region, but also have battered the West-backed rebels who had hoped to drive Assad from power.

"Terrorists must be purged" from Idlib and Syrian government control of the province restored, Zarif said in Damascus, according to Iranian media.

Several strikes against Syrian government or allied forces have in the past been attributed to USA forces, which were deployed with the declared goal of fighting the Islamic State (IS) group.

Last year, they had designated Idlib province in the northwest as a "de-escalation" zone where violence would halt in preparation for a countrywide ceasefire.

Zarif added. Syrian government forces, backed by Iran and Russian Federation, seek to conduct an offensive on Idlib, controlled by various rebel groups.

Iranian, Russian and Turkish leaders are expected to meet up in Iran next week, while their representatives meet in Geneva on September 10 and 11.

The Syrian government, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, aims to clear Syria's northwestern province of Idlib on the border with Turkey of militants who have been controlling the province since early 2017.

The Britain-based monitor, which relies on sources in Syria for its reports, said at least nine civilians, including five children from the same family, were killed in the raids, while 10 people were wounded.

The airport houses Syrian Air Force intelligence, and in early 2017 the Syrian regime accused neighbouring Israel of bombing the base.

"We hope that the province of Idlib will be cleared of terrorism the same way as with previous operations of the Syrian military, with the lowest casualties, such as the suburbs of Damascus and the southern provinces", Zarif said.

Syria's foreign ministry and Iran's state-run IRNA news agency said Mohammad Javad Zarif was received by Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad upon his arrival in Damascus, and was to meet later with Syrian President Bashar Assad. He also called on two major backers of President Bashar al-Assad's military to also restrain their actions.

The Iranian foreign minister further welcomed the decision to stage the Rebuild Syria Exhibition later in October and described it as a sign of "strong determination" to reconstruct the war-torn country.

Idlib is the country's last remaining rebel-held enclave.

The U.S. has provided material support for various rebel groups in Syria in their fight against Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies.

Syria's war has left more than 350,000 people dead and displaced millions since it broke out with the brutal repression of an initially peaceful uprising in 2011.

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