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3 Sep, 2018 22:29

Trump warns Assad against ‘reckless' attack on Syria’s militant-held Idlib

US President Donald Trump has warned Syrian leader Bashar Assad not to attack Idlib province, one of the last terrorist hideouts in the country, also advising Iran and Russia against taking part in the “potential human tragedy.”

Expressing concern that hundreds of thousands of lives might be at risk in the Syrian Army’s looming operations to clear the Idlib province of militants, Trump cautioned Damascus, as well as Moscow and Iran, against “making a grave humanitarian mistake.”

“President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province,” Trump tweeted on Monday afternoon. “The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy.”

Russia, which has yet to comment on the latest statement from the US leader, has been working for weeks to establish humanitarian corridors in Idlib province. Shortly before Trump’s tweet, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that Russia, Turkey, and Iran are working to separate armed opposition and terrorists in the area so that any potential military operation spares civilian lives. At the same time, Lavrov stressed that terrorists in Syria are still being supplied with weapons and munitions.

READ MORE: ‘Aid-delivering’ Syrian rebels: NYT shows warm, fuzzy side of Al-Qaeda in Idlib

For the past couple of weeks, the Russian military has been warning that militants are preparing to stage a fake chemical weapon attack in Idlib in order to frame Damascus. Moscow has repeatedly raised concerns that a false flag attack could serve as a pretext for the US and its allies to carry out airstrikes on Syrian government targets, which would further jeopardize the reconciliation process in the country.

READ MORE: Idlib to become Syria's final battle with terrorists… if the West stays out of it

The US earlier stated that it would “retaliate” to any chemical attacks by the Syrian government, using more firepower than it did back in April. Trump’s latest warning comes amid Russian military exercises in the Mediterranean involving 25 ships and strategic bombers, which the Kremlin hinted was linked to the situation in Idlib. Earlier, the US Navy deployed guided missile destroyers USS Ross and USS The Sullivans to the region. That battle group also includes B-1B Lancer bombers that were redeployed to an air base in Qatar.

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