Tags: ML | Syria | The Latest

The Latest: Turkish, Russian, German, French to Talk Syria

Tuesday, 11 September 2018 01:38 PM

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):

8:00 p.m.

A senior Turkish official says political advisers of the leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany will meet in Istanbul later this week to discuss Syria and other issues.

Ibrahim Kalin — an adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who will represent Turkey at Friday's meeting — said the officials will carry out "preliminary preparations" for a possible summit between the four leaders. A date for the summit would be set later.

Last week, Russia and Iran backed military action against Idlib, the last rebel-held region in Syria, despite a call by Turkey for a cease-fire.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Kalin said: "the aim is to tackle regional issues, and especially Syria, in a coordinated manner. We believe that (the summit) will yield concrete results."

He added: "it is not fair to place the burden (concerning Syria) on Turkey's shoulders and to stand back."

6:30 p.m.

The Russian military says that rebels in Syria have staged a fake chemical attack they intend to blame on the Syrian government.

The military's Center for Reconciliation in Syria said that crews from several Mideastern nations' TV networks and an unidentified U.S. news channel filmed the scene in the town of Jisr al-Shugur in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday. It did not provide any evidence of the claim.

It says the filming featured a purported Syrian government attack by barrel bombs filled with chlorine.

The statement is the latest in a series of Russian warnings that rebels in Idlib were preparing a fake chemical attack to blame on Bashar Assad's government and trigger a military strike by the U.S. and its allies.

U.N. investigators have previously attributed several chemical attacks in Syria to government forces, including one attack using the nerve agent Sarin gas against the Idlib town of Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017.

6:15 p.m.

Turkey's foreign minister is calling for joint efforts to stop an assault on the last rebel stronghold in Syria and to work together to eliminate terror groups in the region.

Mevlut Cavusoglu's comments on Tuesday come amid fears of a looming attack by Syrian government forces on the northern province of Idlib that is home to some 3 million civilians.

Iran and Russia last week backed a military campaign on Idlib despite Turkey's pleas for a cease-fire.

"Let's stop this this fight," Cavisoglu said. "And if the concern is the presence of the terrorist groups, let's work together to eliminate them."

He added that Turkey was "ready to work with Russia, ready to work with Iran, with the US, France, and the UK and all partners and actors in Syria."

Cavusoglu was speaking in Bucharest at the end of a trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of Turkey, Romania and Poland.

2:50 p.m.

A Syria war monitoring group says 21 pro-government gunmen have been killed in clashes with the Islamic State group in southern Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the fighters died in clashes with the militants Monday night in the Safaa region in the Syrian desert.

Government forces backed by local and regional militias have been battling the militants for weeks in the countryside north of Sweida since the militants ambushed the city and its environs in July.

The militants are holding some 30 civilians captive since kidnapping them in the assault. They are believed to be holding them in the Safaa area.

1 p.m.

Turkey's president has urged the international community to act toward preventing a Syrian government offensive against Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.

In an op-ed printed in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the offensive on Idlib would "create serious humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, the rest of Europe and beyond."

His comments came days after Iran and Russia backed a military campaign in Idlib despite Turkey's pleas for a cease-fire.

Syrian Government forces, backed by Russia and Iran, have been massing troops for weeks in preparation for an attack.

Erdogan said the attack would amount to "indiscriminate attacks to wipe out its opposition and not a genuine or effective campaign against terrorism."

The Turkish president also said Russia and Iran had the responsibility to stop the humanitarian disaster.

11:30 a.m.

A U.S.-backed Syrian fighting force says it has launched a campaign to clear the Islamic State group from its last pocket in northeast Syria.

The Syrian Democratic Forces says operations began on Monday to expel IS militants from the town of Hajin and surrounding villages on the northeast banks of the Euphrates River.

The SDF is supported by the U.S.-led international coalition against IS.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says coalition jets have bombed locations across the IS pocket in conjunction with the SDF ground offensive. The group says at least 23 IS fighters have been killed in the first 24 hours of battle.

The jihadist group today holds just a fraction of the territory it held at its 2014 peak.

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The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):8:00 p.m.A senior Turkish official says political advisers of the leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany will meet in Istanbul later this week to discuss Syria and other issues.Ibrahim Kalin - an adviser to...
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Tuesday, 11 September 2018 01:38 PM
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