Attack on Syria's Idlib to sabotage ongoing political process: Turkey

Intense air raids reported on edge of Syria's rebel-held Idlib

At least seven civilians were killed after at least 80 airstrikes around the province's southern edge, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

On Friday at a summit in Tehran, the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey could not agree on staving off military action in the province.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose forces and proxies have remained on the sidelines in Idlib to avoid alienating Turkey, nonetheless acquiesced to Russian Federation, saying that countering terrorism in the province was "unavoidable".

Antakya, Turkey - A temporary calm has settled over the rebel-held areas in northwest Syria, allowing some civilians to return to their homes after fleeing an intensive bombardment by Russian and Syrian government forces.

That has prompted an estimated 30,452 people to be displaced within Idlib and parts of adjacent Hama province between September 1 and 9, the UN's humanitarian coordination agency (OCHA) said Monday.

According to US officials, the Russians have twice threatened to conduct military operations in the area over the last 10 days, prompting the USA military to warn against any such move and deploy Marine reinforcements to the area.

"The United States followed through when we said that we would respond to the use of chemical weapons".

Also emphasizing Turkey's efforts, "Turkey has gone to extraordinary lengths to alleviate suffering of the Syrian people, hosting some 3.5 million refugees-more than any other country in the world", he added. "That's something we're monitoring very closely", OCHA spokesman David Swanson told AFP.

"Getting smuggled across is nearly impossible, and there have been several cases of displaced people being shot dead while trying to enter Turkey illegally", Rifai said.

Hundreds of families have fled Idlib's southeastern areas since Saturday, when Russian and regime strikes on the region were the most violent in a month, the Observatory said.

The United States has about 2,000 troops in other areas of Syria but little leverage in Idlib, which had been declared a "de-escalation" zone under an agreement reached a year ago between Russia, Turkey and Iran.

At least four civilians including two children were killed in the strikes and as dozens of barrel bombs were dropped by regime aircraft, the Britain-based monitor said. "The consequences of inaction are huge", Erdogan said in the article titled "The World Must Stop Assad".

Syria has been ravaged since 2011 by a complex civil war, implicating many foreign powers, that has claimed more than 350,000 lives to date. The OCHA chief, Mark Lowcock, warned that this risked provoking the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st Century.

At a council meeting also on Friday, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia defended the military plans for Idlib, saying armed groups linked to Al-Qaeda were "a legitimate target for liquidation".

Turkey has already taken in over three million refugees from Syria and Ankara fears any large offensive will lead a new refugee influx of up to two million from Idlib.

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