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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".

In addition to opposition forces who have sworn to fight to the death, Idlib is also home to nearly 3 million civilians who will be caught up in the battle.

A member of the Syrian Civil Defence walks through the wreckage of their center which was destroyed by government forces' bombardment in the town of al-Tamana on the southern edges of the rebel-held Idlib province, September 6, 2018.

The renewed strikes came a day after Syrian regime allies Russian Federation and Iran and Turkey, a supporter of Syrian rebel factions, disagreed on the fate of the province at a summit in Tehran.

The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey were meeting in the Iranian capital for a summit set to decide the future of Idlib province amid fears of a humanitarian disaster in Syria's last major rebel bastion.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 68 air raids and 19 barrel bombs dropped Saturday on several of towns and villages in southwestern Idlib and Hama province.

"We are firmly under the impression our Western partners are stoking hysteria around Idlib, and in any way are attempting to prevent the fall of the last major terrorist stronghold in Syria", said Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia. "The signal for the beginning of the practical phase of the terrorists" provocation in the province of Idlib will be a special team from some "foreign friends of the Syrian revolution", Sputnik quoted Konashenkov as saying. Kalin said an attack there to "eliminate terrorist groups" would undermine the ongoing Astana process with Russian Federation and Iran to reach a political solution. They might come to Turkey or go back to their own countries.

The UN and aid groups have warned a military campaign in Idlib could spark one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in the seven-year Syrian war.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, in anticipation of a destructive offensive, has called on all parties to protect civilians in Idlib - many of whom fled government offensives in other parts of the country and have scarce means to sustain their families through another displacement.

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.

But Turkey failed to convince fellow leaders to insert wording for a cease-fire in the summit's final communiqué. While Idlib is expected to top the agenda, the trio are also expected to discuss mechanisms for minimizing the impact of USA financial pressure.

"I think the last chapter of the Idlib story has not been written". Stop Assad's assault on Idlib.

The Syrian government has denied ever using chemical weapons.

"Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed".

Kurdish forces control most of Qamishli, but regime fighters and allied militiamen hold part of the city and its airport. But in recent days, the Damascus government announced it is holding local administration elections, including in Kurdish-ruled areas, undermining the negotiations and talk of Kurdish self-rule. They seized the territories, with the backing of the US-led coalition, after driving out ISIS militants.


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