Airstrikes hit Syria's Idlib province, the last remaining rebel stronghold

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

Idlib is one of the de-escalation areas designated in the Astana talks between Turkey and the regime's allies Russian Federation and Iran and has been turned into a shelter for opposition fighters and their families who were evacuated from different parts of the war-torn country.

More than 60 air raids killed at least four civilians in southern Idlib, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and rescue workers.

Then in April 2018 the US, France and Britain launched a joint attack on Syrian facilities after a chemical strike on the city of Douman was reported to have killed at least 70 people.

He said he had travelled to Geneva to urge diplomats and United Nations officials to help prevent a "catastrophe".

The new strategy reflects a push to ramp up pressure on the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian backers, as Assad appears poised to complete a remarkable rebound in the country's seven-year civil war.

Syrian state media said the attacks on Saturday were a retaliation to overnight shelling from rebel-held areas on a government-held town in Hama province, south of Idlib, that killed nine civilians.

Another rebel alliance based outside Idlib called the National Army, which is armed and directly controlled by Turkey, has also expressed an interest in merging with the NLF, further complicating the picture.

"Any attack on Idlib would result in a catastrophe. We can't speak in their name", Putin said at one point during the meeting. But Putin said this would be pointless as it would not involve extremist militant groups that Russian Federation deems terrorists, and Rouhani said the Syrian regime must regain control over all its territory.

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Since 2015, Idlib has been home to a complex array of anti-regime forces: secular rebels, Islamists, Syrian jihadists with ties to Al-Qaeda - and their foreign counterparts.

His remarks came as Syrian troops, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, massed around the northwestern province ahead of an expected onslaught against the largest rebel-held zone left in the country.

"If Assad, Russia and Iran continue, the consequences will be dire", she said.

The problem is if they try to flee to Turkey they will find a closed border and risk being shot if they try to cross illegally.

The Observatory said shooting broke out when Kurdish security forces at a checkpoint demanded that regime fighters step out of their patrol vehicle but they refused.

The town is run by Kurdish-led administrators and forces, but Syrian government troops hold pockets of territory there, including the airport.

Regime troops have for weeks have been massing around Idlib, after Assad's regime retook control of other areas of the country earlier this year. Many fear conscription or arrest.

There was no immediate comment on the clashes by the government. But in recent days, the Damascus government announced that it will be holding local administration elections, including in Kurdish-ruled areas, undermining the negotiations with the Kurds and their proposal for self-rule. They seized the territories, with the backing of the US -led coalition, after driving out Islamic State militants.

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