Published: Fri, August 31, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Russian Federation military drills point to imminent Syria offensive

Russian Federation military drills point to imminent Syria offensive

"There is a flawless storm based on warnings, counter-warnings [from the USA and Russia]", said Staffan de Mistura, UN envoy to Syria.

The warning does not seem to be holding back Damascus or its chief ally, Moscow.

She said Washington's new representative for Syria, Jim Jeffrey, raised concerns about the possible offensive in a recent meeting with Russia's ambassador to the United States.

The Syrian regime's foreign minister confirmed the Bashar al Assad regime will "go all the way" in the last opposition and rebel-held enclave, with al Nusra Front militants as the main targets.

Moscow's defence ministry said it will deploy 25 ships, including a Marshall Ustinov missile cruiser and 30 jets, for the exercises, which focus on anti-air and anti-submarine defence.

Turkey has intensified contacts with Russian Federation and Iran in recent days amid escalating tension over an impending military operation by the Syrian army into the rebel-held Idlib province of the war-torn country.

Peskov called Idlib a hotbed of terrorists and said not tackling the problem was not a good option. But the Russian Defense Ministry has remained evasive and appeared to spread false information in early August when the British Royal Navy revealed that it had scrambled to monitor two Russian warships and their support vessels passing in darkness through the English Channel.

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Antonov said he had told USA officials Moscow was concerned by signs that the United States was preparing new strikes on Syria.

The Egyptian military said it will host the Americans for the second straight year for the "Bright Star" exercises starting September 8, and U.S. Central Command said Thursday that approximately 800 U.S. troops will be on hand.

De Mistura said 10,000 al-Qaida-linked fighters and their families are located in the densely populated region, which is now home to 2.9 million people, many of them already displaced. "They were behind the organization of those fabricated scenarios for the use of chemical weapons and now they are preparing such a development of the situation with the use of chemical weapons in Idlib", Muallem said. The strike came one week after an alleged gas attack on the city.

And US National Security Advisor John Bolton last week said Russia-backed Syrian military may be preparing for another chemical attack.

Ankara also fears a major offensive could unleash a new flood of refugees across the Turkish border, which the United Nations also warned of.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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