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Minister Walid al-Moualem, speaking after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergie Lavrov in Moscow, also said Syria would not use chemical weapons in any offensive and that it did not have such weapons.

Following Russian warnings over possible chemical weapons attacks to be carried out by groups who will blame Russia - although that possibility decreased - the Idlib tension is nevertheless escalating.

Indeed, the United Nations' Syria envoy last week described the situation in Idlib as "the ideal storm", with fighting therein expected to cause not only a humanitarian crisis but also further entangle Washington, Ankara and even Jerusalem in the web of destruction.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday met with Syrian opposition head in the capital Ankara.

The State Department on Friday warned in a statement that "the United States will respond to any chemical weapons attack perpetrated by the Syrian regime".

The US well aware that any possible military action against the legitimate government of Syria must be made by consensus of the worldwide community.

The American warning follows 10 days of toughly worded exchanges between Western powers on the one side, and Syria and its Russian ally on the other, just as Assad - bolstered by crucial Russian air support since 2015 - sets his sites on Idlib.

"The U.S. sees this (looming Russian-backed Syrian assault) as an escalation of an already unsafe conflict", Pompeo tweeted.

Idlib and the surrounding area is home to some 3 million people - almost half of them, including Alhamdo, already displaced a few times by the civil war - choosing to live in opposition areas.

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There were also reports that terrorist factions in Idlib were literally setting the stage for a false flag chemical "incident".

Lavrov got backing from an unexpected source on August 31 for the government's avowed plans to "liquidate" the extremist Al-Qaeda group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, previously known as Al-Nusra Front, which includes many recruits from foreign countries. "Sergey Lavrov is defending Syrian and Russian assault on Idlib", he wrote.

Assad's forces have already begun massing in the areas of Idlib already under its control and on its southern and eastern flanks. But de Mistura continued to plead for protection for the millions of civilians who could be caught up in the battle.

Turkish, Russian and Iranian leaders are due to meet on September 7 in Iran and are expected to discuss the situation in northwestern Syria.

Erdoğan said that strong relations between the two countries also need a stronger cooperation in the fields of education, development, culture and tourism.

United Nations officials say fighting could displace upward of 800,000 civilians from Idlib, yet there is no arrangement to allow safe passage to those who want to escape the fighting.

With the liberation of Idlib, the Syrian government will return to pre-crisis conditions, and those who launched the war over Syria for seven years will be defeated and Damascus will be victorious.

The terrorists have said that there will be no dialogue with the Russians and the Syrian government to give up Idlib and its suburbs.


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