Russian military unleashes massive air-strikes over 20 areas in Idlib

Damascus

Explosions at a Syrian military airport close to Damascus

Russian Federation resumed air strikes against insurgents in Idlib province on Tuesday after a hiatus of several weeks, according to a Syrian rebel and a war monitor.

The bombardment ends weeks of relative calm in Idlib, amid concerns that the Syrian government and its allies are preparing to launch a massive aerial and ground assault on rebel positions in Idlib province, now Syria's last major opposition-held enclave.

Syria's foreign ministry and Iran's state-run IRNA news agency said Mohammad Javad Zarif was received by Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad upon his arrival in Damascus, and was to meet later with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Meanwhile, Tehran based Press TV reports from Beirut that Sheikh Naim Qassem, Deputy Secretary General of Hezbollah has said that United States, whose pro-terror policies have faced defeat in Syria, is in no position to call for the withdrawal of Iranian advisors and allied Lebanese resistance fighters, who have emerged as "victors" of the war against terrorists in Syria.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said Washington views any government assault on Idlib as an escalation of Syria's war, and the State Department warned that Washington would respond to any chemical attack by Damascus. "Don't let that happen!" he added.

Turkey has been working with Iran and Russian Federation to find a peaceful solution to the Idlib crisis, warning that a full-scale operation on the province would result in a humanitarian disaster.

The visit also comes days before a summit between the leaders of Russia, Iran, and Turkey to discuss the Syrian conflict, now in its eighth year.

The Syrian army, backed by both Iran and Russian Federation, has been amassing forces to launch a wide-scale campaign to eradicate the ultra-radical groups in Idlib while at the same time trying to reach reconciliation deals in that area.

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Mistura seeks a political solution through the United Nations.

It has also pledged to prevent its arch foe Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, and a series of strikes that have killed Iranians in Syria have been attributed to Israel.

But Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday signaled strikes could be extended to Iraq if necessary.

The Pentagon responded Friday, saying, "Russia has recently launched a concentrated disinformation campaign to discredit the United States and worldwide partners and allies" and calling Lavrov's allegation about preparations for a staged chemical strike "absurd".

He also planned to meet with envoys from Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States on September 14 to brief them on his efforts to launch a political process and help set up a committee that could revise Syria's constitution.

Syrian government enjoyed support from Russian air force, Iranian advisors and Hezbollah militants during the operations.

But these "verbal warning shots" have little to do with today's reality in Syria, said Jonas Parello-Plesner, a researcher with the Hudson Institute in Washington who recently published a study on the US approach to the region.

More than seven years since Syria's conflict began, regime forces have managed to retake entire regions from rebels and now control almost two-thirds of the country.

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