Iran, Russia, Turkey presidents meet in high-stakes summit

White House pledges to 'respond swiftly' if Assad uses chemical weapons again

Although the military campaign against the Islamic State has been almost completed, the administration has redefined its goals to include the exit of all Iranian military and proxy forces from Syria, and establishment of a stable, nonthreatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the worldwide community.

Rouhani's clear demand for American troops to completely exit Syria came just as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned during a U.N. Security Council meeting on Friday that Assad will face "dire consequences" if he launches an assault on Idlib province, one of the last areas controlled by Syrian rebels.

The three leaders, all engaged in Astana process, last met for similar talks in Ankara in April, and before that, in November previous year, in the Russian resort of Sochi.

More than 100 U.S. Marines launched an air assault in the southern Syrian desert backed by artillery fire to send a "strong message" to Russian Federation not to send their forces inside a restricted area near an American military outpost, two U.S. defense officials have told Fox News. "That means we are not in a hurry".

"I believe the Turkish president is right overall".

Jeffrey declined to describe any new military mission.

But the more activist policies he outlined, and only in vague terms, could increase the likelihood of a direct confrontation with Iran, and potentially with Russian Federation.

Elsewhere, Russia has warned that it will attack At Tanf, a key USA stronghold near the border of Syria, Jordan and Iraq, to root out militant troops in the area.

Russian Federation and Iran are key allies of President Bashar Assad's regime.

On Friday, Erdogan said steps would be taken to prevent further migration from Syria.

Twice the US military has told the Russians to back off.

But Hassan Hassan, a Syria expert and a fellow at the Washington-based Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, said he is doubtful an offensive is imminent, pointing to Turkey getting USA backing in opposing a major offensive. "Assad has no future, but it's not our job to get rid of him".

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Speaking after the meeting, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at the U.S. and vowed to keep working with Moscow.

For Russia and Iran, both allies of the Syrian government, retaking Idlib is crucial to complete what they see as a military victory in Syria's civil war.

Turkey has accepted 3.5 million refugees from neighbouring Syria since the beginning of the seven-year war.

Idlib has now become a crowded holding pen for up to 70,000 opposition fighters, along with about 2 million Syrian civilians displaced from other battle zones, and activists and aid workers trying to assist them.

But as Syrian government and Russian warplanes mounted air strikes in Idlib on Friday morning in a possible prelude to a full-scale offensive, Putin and Rouhani pushed back against Erdogan's call for a truce.

The parties involved in the conflict of Idlib should practice "patience and use wisdom" to solve the issue in Idlib, Erdogan said in an address to a summit in the capital Tehran attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Humanitarian organizations have warned of an unprecedented level of civilian bloodshed, and Trump himself has threatened USA retaliation if an all-out offensive is launched, especially with the use of chemical weapons.

Rebels have been preparing for the attack, but the odds aren't in their favour. That also includes an estimated 10,000 hard-core fighters, including al-Qaeda-linked militants.

"The United States agrees that those forces must be wiped out, but it rejects "this idea that we have to go in there and clean out the terrorists" when "most of the people there are not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator" as well as millions of civilians", Jeffrey said.

The Assad government was not directly represented at the summit, nor was the United States or other Western powers.

"We've started using new language", Jeffrey said, referring to previous warnings against the use of chemical weapons.

"Any offensive is to us objectionable as a reckless escalation" he said.

In turn, Putin underlined the need for the development of bilateral banking relations and the use of national currencies in business transactions, vowing that no Russian firm would withdraw from any Iranian project amid the USA sanctions imposed against Iran after Washington's pullout from the nuclear deal.

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