Iran seeks Idlib liberation with 'least humanitarian cost'

Explosions at a Syrian military airport close to Damascus

Russian warplanes have been hitting targets at many civilian residential areas and the frontlines of the opposition in Syria's northwestern Idlib province.

The Civil Defense rescue group said five children were killed in airstrikes on the town of Jisr al-Shughour and another three civilians were killed in strikes on the village of Mahambal.

A Syrian government minister said the siege of Idlib would probably be resolved by force.

He also called on two major backers of President Bashar al-Assad's military to also restrain their actions.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov added: "We know that Syria's armed forces are preparing to resolve this problem".

De Mistura told reporters that ongoing talks between Russian Federation and Turkey held the key to averting an assault on the region, but six reported air strikes on Tuesday suggested the Ankara talks were not going well.

Elsewhere in his Tuesday remarks, Zarif also pointed to his last week's talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Istanbul as well as a planned summit of Iranian, Russian and Turkish presidents in Tehran and said efforts would be continued to "prevent any damage to the Syrian people and complete the process of clearing extremists".

President Trump tweeted yesterday addressing to not attack Idleb because the operation could leave hundreds of people dead.

U.S. Will Cut Millions in Funding to U.N. Palestinian Agency
In January, the Trump administration released $60m (£45m) in funds but withheld a further $65m (£50m) it had been due to provide. In Gaza, the Islamist group Hamas also condemned the U.S. move as a "grave escalation against the Palestinian people".

Last week, a source close to Damascus said the government was preparing a phased offensive to recover Idlib province, but Turkey, whose army has a string of observation posts around the edge of the rebel area, has warned against such an assault.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday warned Syria against launching an attack on the country's last rebel stronghold with the help of Russian Federation and Iran, saying the offensive could trigger a "human tragedy".

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Damascus to discuss plans for an upcoming summit between the leaders of Iran, Russia and Turkey, which Tehran will host on September 7 to discuss Idlib, Iran's Fars news agency reported. "Don't let that happen!"

Syria has been at war since early 2011 with a multitude of parties including pro-government forces, rebel groups and militants all fighting for control over various areas.

Nearly two million people now in the area have already fled fighting in other parts of Syria.

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, said an all-out assault on Idlib and its catastrophic consequences could still be avoided.

But analysts still say the United States appears resigned to the likelihood of a final military victory by Syrian government forces.

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