Russia dismisses Trump warning, resumes Idlib strikes

BEIRUT: A Syrian rebel and a war monitor said Russian air strikes had resumed against insurgents in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on Tuesday after several weeks. Syrian President Bashar al Assad has sworn to recapture every inch of Syria and has made big gains against rebels since Russia joined his war effort in 2015.
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.
Russian air raids ceased in and around Idlib on August 15, but pro-Syrian government forces have maintained an aerial bombardment and shelling against rebels there, the war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said.
The rebel source and the Observatory both said the air strikes were in the countryside near
Jisr al Shughour on the western
edge of the rebels’ northwestern territory.
Russian, Turkish and Iranian leaders are due to meet on September 7 in Iran and are expected to discuss the situation in northwestern Syria.
Meanwhile, Russia dismissed US President Donald Trump’s warning to Syria not to launch an offensive in Idlib, saying on Tuesday that the area was a “nest of terrorism”.
Trump on Monday warned President Assad and his allies not
to “recklessly attack” the northwestern Syrian province, saying hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. “Just to speak out with some warnings, without taking into account the very dangerous, negative potential for the whole situation in Syria, is
probably not a full, comprehensive approach,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
The presence of militants in Idlib was undermining the Syrian peace process and making the region a base for attacks on Russian forces in Syria, Peskov added.
“A fairly large group of terrorists has settled there and of course this leads to a general destabilisation of the situation. It undermines attempts to bring the situation onto the track of a political-diplomatic settlement,” he said.
“We know that Syria’s armed forces are preparing to resolve this problem,” he added.
A source has said that Assad is preparing a phased offensive to regain the province.
— Agencies