USA has seen evidence of Syria preparing chemical weapons in Idlib: envoy

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"It is essential that all parties to the conflict do not attack civilians, grant safe passage to civilians wishing to flee the fighting and attacks, and ensure unimpeded access to humanitarian relief for all civilians in need in Idlib".

This week, a top USA envoy said there was "lots of evidence" that chemical weapons were being prepared by Syrian government forces in Idlib.

Analysts agree that the summit did not go well for Erdogan: Kerim Has, a Moscow-based analyst on Russian and Eurasian affairs, told Al-Monitor that the gathering revealed that a joint offensive carried out by Russia-backed regime forces and Iran-backed pro-regime militias "is very near".

Syrian and Russian jets struck anti-Assad forces in Idlib on Friday as the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey - the three main nations with boots on the ground in the war-torn country - started their summit meeting in Teheran.

Critics said Black was being used, perhaps unwittingly, as a tool for Syrian propaganda as government forces massed for an assault on Idlib province, the country's last rebel-held stronghold.

An official in the town of Morek, which serves as a crossing between Hama and Idlib, appealed for Turkey to intervene as it has troops and 12 observations points circling Idlib.

The observatory said the militants retaliated against the government air strikes by shelling a Christian village in government-held Mahrada, killing at least 10 people, some of them children, and injuring 20 others.

Earlier this year, a senior adviser to Erdogan warned against any attack on Idlib, describing it as a "red line".

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"I fear we are about to face the most catastrophic crisis in our war", he said.

He said the United States had repeatedly asked Russian Federation whether it could "operate" in Idlib to eliminate the last holdouts of Islamic State and other extremist groups.

A Syrian man walks past a stall in the rebel-held northern Syrian city of Idlib's central Clock Square on September 6, 2018.

Seized from government forces in 2015, Idlib and adjacent areas form the final major chunk of Syrian territory are still under opposition control, home to some three million people, with around half of them displaced from other parts of the country, according to the United Nations. "Idlib isn't just important for Syria's future, it is of importance for our national security and for the future of the region", Mr. Erdoğan said.

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.

Those remarks capped a week of rising USA rhetoric opposing the Idlib operation. Stop Assad's assault on Idlib. Clashes rarely erupt there over turf control and authority, and are usually a reflection of deepening political tension between the uneasy partners.

"Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed". This prompted the clashes that lasted no more than 20 minutes, Sheikmos said.

The U.S-backed Kurdish administration has recently begun talking with the Syrian government - essentially seeking government recognition of its self-rule areas. But in recent days, the Damascus government announced that it will be holding local administration elections, including in Kurdish-ruled areas, undermining the negotiations with the Kurds and their proposal for self-rule.

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