Russian Federation says Syrian regime preparing to 'solve' Idlib problem

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Half of Idlib's 3 million people have already fled there from their homes in other parts of Syria, according to the United Nations, and any offensive there threatens new displacement and human misery.

Britain, France and the USA, which together launched limited attacks on Syrian installations in mid-April in retaliation for an alleged Syrian chemical attack, say their red line against illegal weapon use remains in force.

One was a military program that planned to train and equip 15,000 Syrian rebels, but was cancelled in 2015 after spending $500 million and producing only a few dozen fighters.

Russian Federation on Tuesday joined Iran in expressing support for Syria's impending operation to retake control of rebel-held Idlib province, the last major opposition stronghold in the country.

"It is not logical to imagine that the prolonged crisis in Syria would be resolved with a meeting but we believe that the only possible path to this situation is the political solution", ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said in his weekly press conference.

Iran echoed that theme.

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Zarif also said, "Considering the very good victories of resistance forces against extremist and terrorist groups, the time has come to start the reconstruction process in Syria and end conflicts and take care of humanitarian issues in Syria as well as the return of refugees".

"They are using people as human shields".

Analysts have speculated that Russian Federation and Syria may pursue a phased offensive that would target strategic areas on the edges of the province first.

The renewed Russian bombardment significantly raises the stakes for talks between Turkey, Iran and Russia set to take place on Friday, which are aimed at finding an alternative to a large-scale offensive.

The U.S. has twice struck Syrian military installations in response to alleged poison gas attacks.

Syrian writer Leila Al-Shami wrote that "regime troops have massed on Idlib's border and leaflets have been dropped on residential areas calling on Syrians to accept "reconciliation" or face the consequences".

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Analysts say there is still a window of opportunity to avoid the humanitarian impact of a full-scale offensive.

Zarif said the talks would be "a continuation of the three-way political round" that examines "the methods of how to confront extremist and terrorist groups, like Tahrir al-Sham".

"We went to Moscow with our defense minister and intelligence chief". The looming assault on Syria that the US-led coalition intends to carry out will not affect plans to liberate Idlib, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told the Rossiya-24 TV channel.

The government prioritized reconciliation in Idlib but was rejected by the ultra-radical groups who opted for a military operation.

Russian Federation says militants in Idlib target its own facilities in Syria and pose a terrorist threat.

It follows comments by Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, that "terrorists must be purged" from Idlib and the entire northwestern province returned to government control.

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