Trump warns Assad against ‘reckless' attack on Syria’s militant-held Idlib

Monday - 03/09/2018 22:45
FILE PHOTO © SANA / handout via Reuters
FILE PHOTO © SANA / handout via Reuters
US President Donald Trump has warned Syrian leader Bashar Assad not to attack Idlib province, one of the last terrorist hideouts in the country, also advising Iran and Russia against taking part in the “potential human tragedy.”

Expressing his concern that hundreds of thousands of lives might be at risk during the Syrian army's looming operations to clear the Idlib province of militants, Trump cautioned Damascus, as well as Moscow and Iran, against “making a grave humanitarian mistake.” “President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province,” Trump tweeted on Monday afternoon. “The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy.”

Russia, which has yet to comment on the latest statement from the US leader, has been working for weeks to establish humanitarian corridors in Idlib province. Shortly before Trump’s tweet, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that Russia, Turkey and Iran are working to separate armed opposition and terrorists in the area so that any potential military operations spares civilian lives. At the same time, Lavrov stressed that terrorists in Syria are still being supplied with weapons and munitions.

READ MORE: ‘Aid-delivering’ Syrian rebels: NYT shows warm, fuzzy side of Al-Qaeda in Idlib

For the last couple of weeks, the Russian military has also been warning that militants are preparing to stage a fake chemical weapons attack in Idlib in order to frame Damascus. Moscow repeatedly raised concern that such a false flag attack could serve as a pretext for the US and its allies to carry out airstrikes on Syrian government targets, which would further jeopardize the reconciliation process in the country.

READ MORE: Idlib to become Syria's final battle with terrorists… if the West stays out of it

The US earlier stated that it would ‘retaliate’ to a possible chemical attack by the Syrian government, using more firepower than it did back in April. Trump’s latest warning, comes amid Russian military exercise in the Mediterranean, involving 25 ships and strategic bombers, that the Kremlin hinted was linked to the situation in Syria’s Idlib. Earlier, the US Navy also deployed guided missile destroyers USS Ross and USS The Sullivans to the region. That battle group also includes B-1B Lancer bombers that were redeployed to an air base in Qatar.

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