Turkish, Russian, Iranian presidents meet in Tehran

Syrian President Bashar al Assad attends an interview with Russian television channel NTV

While it's hard to be sure of the depth of Trump's engagement on Syria policy considering his quick reversals in recent months, he was part of an effort by US officials this week to warn the Syrian regime and its allies not to use chemical weapons or target civilians as they prepare for an assault on Idlib province, the last rebel stronghold.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in Tehran on September 7, 2018.

And Russia wants to maintain its regional presence to fill the vacuum left by America's long uncertainty about what it wants in the conflict.

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

Their discussions in Tehran mark a crucial point in a seven-year-old war which has killed more than half a million people and forced 11 million to flee their homes.

"The Tehran summit can produce peace and reconciliation in Syria or it can deepen the mess created by endless bouts of violence mainly instigated by the Assad regime", Ilnur Cevik, a senior adviser to Erdogan, wrote in the Daily Sabah newspaper.

The Syrian government's attack on Idlib, located in northwestern Syria, was assisted by the Russian military, which called the area a "cradle of terrorism", the BBC reported.

The sanctions come two days after the Trump administration warned Assad against using chemical weapons on his citizens and Russian Federation conducted strikes in Idlib.

What will happen to US troops in Syria? That also includes an estimated 10,000 hard-core fighters, including Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

"The United States is closely monitoring the situation in Idlib province, Syria, where millions of innocent civilians are under threat of an imminent Assad regime attack, backed by Russian Federation and Iran", the White House said in a statement.

For Turkey, the stakes could not be higher. Turkey has accepted 3.5 million refugees from Syria since the start of the war in 2011.

Turkey also does not want to see another Kurdish-controlled area rise along its border, as it already faces in northern Iraq.

All three nations face sanctions from the United States under the administration of President Donald Trump.

The top Iranian diplomat for Syria policy told Iranian media that Idlib posed a dilemma because it had to be liberated from "terrorists" but the security of millions of civilians had to be protected.

The Tehran talks could determine the scale and the timeline of the Idlib offensive, which the United Nations has warned may displace some 800,000 people. While Idlib is expected to top the agenda, the trio are also expected to discuss mechanisms for minimizing the impact of U.S. financial pressure.

Syrian Army troops have been steadily fortifying positions along the front lines around Idlib over the past few weeks and are expected launch an all-out assault on the province in coming days.

Worldwide calls for restraint grew Wednesday for Syria and its allies, Russian Federation and Iran, to avoid a bloodbath and humanitarian disaster in Syria's Idlib province.

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