Pompeo accuses Russian Federation of justifying Idlib offensive

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It is unclear when the offensive will formally begin and what impact the fall of Idlib could have on Turkish-controlled Afrin and the northern provinces controlled by the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Two points can be drawn from the words of the UN Representative for the Syrian affairs: first, the description of the Tahrir al-Sham (Jabhat al-Nusra) group as a terrorist group, which can be considered a green light to break them up and exclude them from any settlement plans.

Turkey has named an al-Qaida affiliate in Syria a terror organization to include the group's rebranded name.

If considered that Chechen terror groups are already a major problem for Russian Federation, and since Chechnya is in the neighborhood of Turkey, which also has a Chechen-origin population, it can be understood better why Russian Federation and Turkey are more sensitive than all the other countries. Although Americans and the West have never been able to prove their claims that Damascus has used weapons of mass destruction, the United Nations refused to hold them accountable.

France's foreign minister says Syrian President Bashar Assad has won his country's civil war but won't "win the peace" without a political solution brokered by the worldwide community.

Earlier on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated the warning, saying that a provocation involving the use of chemical weapons is being planned in the province of Idlib. "But he hasn't won the peace".

Russian Federation and Syria have denied planning any chemical attacks and have charged that the extremist Hayat group - with backing from the West - is planning to stage one and then blame it on the government, creating a pretext for Western air strikes.

Francis appealed on Sunday to the global community and "all the actors involved" to use diplomacy, dialogue and negotiations "in respect for worldwide humanitarian law and to safeguard the lives of civilians".

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"The winds of war are blowing and we are receiving troubling news about the risk of a possible humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, in the province of Idlib", Francis told thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square for his weekly blessing.

That's where Syrian opposition forces have dug trenches around their bases, anticipating a ground offensive on their last major stronghold.

"Attacking the whole of Idlib to eliminate some radical groups would mean causing the death of hundreds of thousands of people and making 3.5 million people leave their homes one more time", Cavusoglu added.

The Russian defense ministry said more than 25 warships and support vessels and around 30 planes, including fighter jets and strategic bombers, would take part in the Mediterranean drills which it said would last from September 1 to September 8.

In a statement, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said Syrian regime forces were responsible for the majority of the fatalities.

A series of recent strikes in Syria that have killed Iranians has been attributed to Israel.

But analysts still say the United States appears resigned to the likelihood of a final military victory by Syrian regime forces.