Regime, Russian air raids resume on Syria's Idlib

Pentagon ‘routinely’ briefs Trump on ‘military options’ in case of chemical attack in Syria

Ceasefire talks fail as airstrikes target last rebel-held region in Syria

Abu al-Baraa al-Hamawi, a rebel leader in northern Hama, said about 95 percent of people had left a number of villages in northern and western Hama province and in southern Idlib province in the last three days due to intensive air strikes. It said the violence was the "most intense" in weeks, with helicopters also dropping barrel bombs packed with shrapnel.

The U.N. envoy for Syria hosted key diplomats from Iran, Russia and Turkey on Tuesday to discuss work toward rewriting the country's constitution, amid concerns about a possibly devastating military offensive on rebel-held Idlib province. Turkey is a leading opposition supporter which has troops in the country and has erected 12 observation posts around Idlib.

He said that the United Nations had plans to reach up to 800,000 people who might be displaced, and were bracing for around 100,000 people to move into government-held areas and some 700,000 to initially flee within Idlib. The barrage late Friday in Mhradah killed at least nine civilians, according to state media.

"Some even said that they are preparing to die as Idlib is the last safe place for many of them".

Syria's last major rebel bastion Idlib was Saturday targeted by the "most violent" Russian air strikes in a month, a monitor said, after the failure of a three-way summit on the Syrian conflict.

Fearing the resumption of the bombardment, they were either residing with relatives or in camps along the Turkey-Syria border, added Mohamed, who is originally from Latakia province and has already been displaced four times over the past three years.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said heavy attacks resumed on the northwestern region near the Turkish border around midday Sunday.

Turkish forces and Turkish-backed opposition fighters now control an area between Afrin and Jarabulus where Ankara had hoped to resettle the millions of refugees.

"We've tried to convey the message in recent days that if there's a third use of chemical weapons, the response will be much stronger", John Bolton said, while fielding questions after a policy speech.

It said at least four civilians were killed, including two children and a woman, majority in Abdeen, a village west Khan of Sheikhoun. Around half of them are already displaced from other parts of Syria.

The rescuers said another was killed in Halba, a village farther north.

The opposition accuses Russian Federation and its allies of already striking at hospitals and civil defence centres to force rebels to surrender in a repeat of earlier, large-scale military offensives.

"The worldwide community has made it Turkey's responsibility to get rid of the extremists of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham without providing any help", Muhittin Ataman, director of foreign policy studies at Ankara-based think tank SETA, told a conference last week.

Russian Federation has said it wants all militants to be pushed out of Idlib and that it avoids civilians and targets only radical al Qaeda-inspired groups.

The local council of Morek, a town that serves as a crossing between Hama and Idlib, sent an urgent appeal, asking Turkey to intervene. The majority of the displaced have headed close to the border with Turkey.

Elsewhere on Saturday, clashes between Kurdish forces and regime fighters in the divided northeastern city of Qamishli killed 18 combatants, the Kurdish forces and the Observatory said. Occasional clashes erupt there over turf control and authority, reflecting deepening political tension between the uneasy partners.

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