Russian air strikes batter Syria's Idlib

Damascus

"Russian warplanes resumed bombing Idlib province after a 22-day pause", said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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

The Kremlin dismissed U.S. President Donald Trump's warning to Syria not to launch an offensive in the rebel-held enclave of Idlib, saying on Tuesday that the area was a "nest of terrorism".

Rebels said the strikes had mostly targeted military positions of the Islamist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the Turkistan Islamic Party in the Jisr al-Shughour district, although at least three civilians were reported to have been killed.

After an all-out military offensive-accompanied by a complex patchwork of ceasefire agreements-ended hostilities in the country's south in July, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Russian media that "now, Idlib is [the] goal".

"Assad won the war, we have to state this".

Government forces are amassing at the border with Idlib province, while Russian Federation revealed last week it had positioned more than a dozen ships off the Syrian coast, raising fears of a wide-scale offensive that could mark the last major battle in the seven-year civil war. "Don't let that happen!" Trump wrote on his Twitter page on Monday.

Iran and Shia group Hezbollah are strong allies of the Bashar al-Assad regime, whose forces have been fighting opposition groups in a deadly civil war since 2011.

Hezbollah leader also hailed the achievements made by the Syrian army and its allies against United States backed takfiri (a term used for Saudi-Wahabi influenced) terrorists.

"Russia seeks to ensure not just the regime's military victory in Syria but its full political restoration through global re-legitimation at war's end".

But Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday signalled strikes could be extended to Iraq if necessary.

The attack killed at least 8 of the Iranian force and the militia gunmen-1 Iranian, 3 Syrians and 4 "others", and injured at least 11. "It must be clear".

The country, which backs several opposition groups in Syria, has set up observation points around the rebel stronghold and has been seeking to stop a full-scale state offensive.

The Pentagon responded Friday, saying, "Russia has recently launched a concentrated disinformation campaign to discredit the United States and global partners and allies" and calling Lavrov's allegation about preparations for a staged chemical strike "absurd".

But these "verbal warning shots" have little to do with today's reality in Syria, said Jonas Parello-Plesner, a researcher with the Hudson Institute in Washington who recently published a study on the U.S. approach to the region.

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

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