Russian air strikes batter Syria's Idlib: monitor

Explosions at a Syrian military airport close to Damascus

The Observatory blamed the strikes on Russian Federation, which intervened in Syria's civil war in 2015 to support President Bashar Assad.

The Kremlin on Tuesday rejected President Donald Trump's warning that an attack on the last major enclave of Syrian rebels would be a "grave humanitarian mistake", saying the Idlib rebels are hindering efforts at a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Both he and his Syrian counterpart, Walid Muallem, have accused rebels of preparing to stage a chemical attack in Idlib in order to blame pro-government forces and draw new United States military retaliation.

Peskov also said the situation in and around Idlib Province will be a main item on the agenda when President Vladimir Putin meets in Tehran on September 7 with the leaders Iran and Turkey.

Iran is backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his country's civil war, along with Russian Federation and Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

In their meeting on Monday, Mr Assad and Mr Zarif also discussed what they called "western pressure" on their two countries, in apparent reference to the United States sanctions on Iran and calls for limiting Iran's role in Syria. "Don't let that happen!" he added.

Damascus is determined to bring every inch of Syrian territory back under its control, but Turkey, which established observation posts in Idlib, has warned against an attack on the province.

Earlier this week, Israel reiterated its threat to hit Iranian military targets in Syria.

"By backing an all-out offensive, Russian Federation risks undermining its long-term political objectives in Syria", ICG wrote in a nine-page briefing.

Tuesday's bombardment hit several areas held by the jihadist-led Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, among them the large town of Jisr al-Shughur, but also areas held by rival Turkish-backed rebels, including the town of Ariha.

Russian Federation has also been providing air cover to Syrian army operations.

Further Iranian engagement in Syria meanwhile risks drawing Israel deeper into the conflict.

But Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday signaled strikes could be extended to Iraq if necessary. Moscow has repeatedly raised concerns that a false flag attack could serve as a pretext for the U.S. and its allies to carry out airstrikes on Syrian government targets, which would further jeopardize the reconciliation process in the country. "It must be clear".

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.

TRT World's Kevin McAleese has more from Washington DC.

After seven years of war, the northern province of Idlib has become the rebels' final bastion.

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