Putin urges Russian special services, military to closely cooperate with Iran, Turkey

White House pledges to 'respond swiftly' if Assad uses chemical weapons again

Erdogan warns of 'massacre' in Syria's Idlib | Bangkok Post: news

"Iran and Turkey must further boost their economic relations to counter U.S. sanctions", President Hassan Rouhani said in a Friday meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is in Tehran to attend a trilateral summit on Syria with his Iranian and Russian counterparts.

The three leaders are expected to determine the future of Idlib amid growing fears of a humanitarian disaster.

Putin said "terrorist elements" continued to "stage provocations" and use drones in Idlib.

"There are no civilians left at all in the targeted villages", Hasan Younis, a member of the White Helmets emergency medical team based in southern Idlib province, said to ABC News.

Reacting to Erdogan's proposal for the joint communique to call for a ceasefire in Idlib, Putin said "a ceasefire would be good" but indicated that Moscow does not think it will hold. An estimated 10,000 Al-Qaeda-linked fighters are among those rebels, and Idlib is also home to about 3 million civilians - almost half of them displaced from other parts of Syria.

Today's crunch talks marked a crucial point in the seven-year-old Syrian civil war which has killed more than 500,000 people.

Jeffrey described the situation in Idlib as "very dangerous" and said Turkey was trying to avoid an all-out Syrian government offensive.

The top Iranian diplomat for Syria policy told Iranian media that Idlib posed a dilemma because it had to be liberated from "terrorists" but the security of millions of civilians had to be protected.

The spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry is calling a summit on Syria between Iran, Turkey and Russian Federation an "invaluable opportunity". Sources said he cautioned that he didn't want to hear in October that the military hadn't been able to fully defeat ISIS and needed to stay.

Putin said a ceasefire would be pointless as it would not involve Islamist militant groups it deems terrorists. Stop Assad's assault on Idlib. Rouhani as well spoke of "cleansing the Idlib region of terrorists", while also noting the need of protecting civilians.

"We do not want people of Idlib, who have suffered a lot, to be exposed to new catastrophes", he added.

The U.S. and its allies, however, believe it is Assad's forces who appear to be preparing a chemical attack in Idlib.

Russian Federation and Syria and have denied planning a chemical weapons attack, but US special adviser for Syria Jim Jeffrey told reporters on September 6 that "there is lots of evidence" that chemical weapons are being prepared by government forces in Idlib. "Any offensive is to us as objectionable as a reckless escalation".

Erdogan has warned against such a catastrophic outcome, and has much at stake in efforts to prevent it at the Tehran summit.

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.

Trump has said Russian Federation could be a partner in Syria, but regional experts have long doubted Moscow's ability or desire to remove Iranian forces from the country. "There are a million children". Citing Israel alongside the U.S. the Iranian leader claimed the two countries will not achieve their goals by arming the anti-Assad forces. President Bashar Assad's "brutal regime - backed by Russian Federation and Iran - can not continue to attack and terrorize Syria's citizens".

Their previous meetings in Sochi and Ankara established so-called de-escalation zones in several areas, including Idlib, that temporarily reduced violence.

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 trilateral summit was focused on focused on Syria's Idlib province, the last stronghold of opposition to Bashar al-Assad's regime.

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