Turkey blacklists jihadist group as Idlib operation looms

Бомбардировка Сирии Америкой неизбежна – арабский политолог

The State Department on Friday warned in a statement that "the United States will respond to any chemical weapons attack perpetrated by the Syrian regime".

Russian Federation and Syria have denied planning any chemical attacks and have charged that the extremist Hayat group - with backing from the West - is planning to stage one and then blame it on the government, creating a pretext for Western air strikes.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Thursday that Israel will continue to act in Syria as it deems necessary for its national defense, without consideration for the global agreements that would formally end the brutal eight-year civil war in the country.

It is unclear when the offensive will formally begin and what impact the fall of Idlib could have on Turkish-controlled Afrin and the northern provinces controlled by the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Indeed, the United Nations' Syria envoy last week described the situation in Idlib as "the flawless storm", with fighting therein expected to cause not only a humanitarian crisis but also further entangle Washington, Ankara and even Jerusalem in the web of destruction.

"We would probably dissolve Tahrir al-Sham because it faces the pressure of Russian Federation and even Turkey".

Syrian government forces are now massing around the northwestern province of Idlib, which is held by a complex array of rebels and violent extremist fighters, many of whom have been blacklisted as "terrorists" by world powers. The province contains an array of militant groups, including the ultra-radical Levant Liberation Committee (LLC), which is also known as the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday met with Syrian opposition head in the capital Ankara.

U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura told reporters that there was a high concentration of foreign fighters in Idlib, including an estimated 10,000 terrorists, but it would be better to set up humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians than rush into a battle which could turn prove to be a "perfect storm".

Turkey says it is seeking to ward off a full-scale offensive, urging Russian Federation and Iran to allow more time to separate "radical militants" from the armed groups it has backed.

While Russia has denied that the manoeuvres are related to a possible Idlib battle, its officials have struck a martial tone about the need for action in the province. Russian Federation has said a military operation there is necessary to weed out "terrorists" it blames for attacking its bases on the coast.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Iran to meet with his Russian and Iranian counterparts Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani, state-run TRT Haber television said.

The UN and aid workers are bracing for disaster, warning that up to 800,000 people are in danger of renewed displacement if a government offensive gets underway.

Assad's forces suffered serious setbacks early in the war, but Russian backing has helped them retake control of 60 percent of Syria.

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