Erdogan and Putin clash over Idlib ceasefire in Syria

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 presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation on Friday failed to agree on a ceasefire that would forestall a Syrian government offensive in rebel-held Idlib province which the United Nations fears could cause a humanitarian catastrophe involving tens of thousands of civilians. About 2,200 USA troops are serving in Syria, virtually all of them devoted to the war against the Islamic State in the eastern third of the country.

More than 100 U.S. Marines launched an air assault in the southern Syrian desert backed by artillery fire to send a "strong message" to Russian Federation not to send their forces inside a restricted area near an American military outpost, two U.S. defense officials have told Fox News.

"That means we are not in a hurry", he said.

Jeffrey declined to describe any new military mission.

"The fires of war and bloodshed in Syria are reaching their end", Rouhani said, while adding that terrorism must "be uprooted in Syria, particularly in Idlib".

On two separate occasions this month (Sept. 1 and September 6), the Russian military warned its American counterparts of its intension to conduct a military operation in southern Syria near the At Tanf garrison where US special operations forces are located.

Tehran and Moscow have helped Assad turn the course of the war against an array of opponents ranging from Western-backed rebels to the Islamist militants, while Turkey is a leading opposition supporter and has troops in the country.

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

While such an objective smacks of regime change, Jeffrey told the Post that US policy is not that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "must go".




USA policy is not that "Assad must go", Jeffrey said. But he said he found it hard to think of Assad as a leader who could "meet the requirements of not just us, but the global community" as someone who "doesn't threaten his neighbors" or abuse his own citizens, "doesn't allow chemical weapons or provide a platform for Iran".

Earlier this week, President Trump tweeted: "President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province."The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy."Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed".

The Presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey met in a high stakes summit in Tehran on Friday to discuss the future of Syria as a bloody military operation looms in the last rebel-held area of the war-ravaged nation, each laying out terms and issues on the battlefield most critical to their own concerns.

Already, almost a half-million people have been killed in the grinding civil war, which began first as a popular uprising against Assad and later devolved into a sectarian and regional conflict. The initiative was launched by Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation previous year to ease conditions for a cease-fire and eventual peace between the government and the rebels in designated "de-escalation zones".

But Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani pushed back against Turkey's Recep Erdogan's call for a truce.

Reacting to Erdogan's proposal for a cease-fire in Idlib, Putin said "a cease-fire would be good" but indicated that Moscow does not think it will hold. Humanitarian organizations have warned of an unprecedented level of civilian bloodshed, and Trump himself has threatened US retaliation if an all-out offensive is launched, especially with the use of chemical weapons. "And the United States is going to get very angry, too", Trump said Wednesday. "We expect the Russians to abide by this agreement", Urban said.

Russia, which has beefed up its naval and other forces in the region in recent weeks, has charged that the United States is preparing to manufacture a chemical weapons attack to justify military intervention. In practice it has eased the regime's bloody comeback in rebel-held territories such as Daraa and Ghouta, and now imminently in the last militant stronghold, Idlib, where the al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, dominates. "Millions will be coming to Turkey's borders because they have nowhere to go".

The Assad government was not directly represented at the summit, nor were the United States and other Western powers.

"We've started using new language", Jeffrey said, referring to previous warnings against the use of chemical weapons. Jeffrey added that the attack would be a "reckless escalation". A report from the Guardian's Martin Chulov quoted a Kurdish leader as saying that a small number of the US-backed Kurdish Arab militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - ostensibly Kurds - had made their way to join Syrian forces in the impending fight for Idlib.

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