Airstrikes batter Syria’s last rebel stronghold after cease-fire bid fails

Vladimir Putin Hassan Rouhani and Tayyip Erdogan

"I can say we've been in consultation with the British and the French, who joined us in the second strike, and they also agree that another use of chemical weapons will result in a much stronger response", Mr Bolton said.

In a recent discussion about Syria, people familiar with the exchange said, President Trump threatened to conduct a massive attack against Mr. Assad if he carries out a massacre in Idlib, the northwestern province that has become the last refuge for more than three million people and as many as 70,000 opposition fighters that the regime considers to be terrorists.

Reports revealing Assad has approved the use of chlorine come as the dictator's forces continue to lay siege to Idlib.

"He expects us to have military options and we have provided updates to him on the development of those military options", he added, according to Reuters.

The area is Syria's last major stronghold of active opposition to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Russian and Syrian governments claim that the rebels - not Assad - plan to launch a chemical weapons attack.

Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov, for his part, said Moscow had "irrefutable information" that Syrian rebels were planning a "provocation" in Idlib province to justify Western intervention.

Many made a dash for Syria's northern border with Turkey, with just under half seeking refuge in displacement camps and others living with local families or renting apartments.

"We go wherever it's safe", said the man in his 30s.

"Any attack on Idlib would result in a catastrophe".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned against a "scorched earth" policy, but said "fighting terrorism in Idlib is an unavoidable". "The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy", Trump tweeted earlier this week. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.

US national security adviser John Bolton has warned that the US, France and United Kingdom will launch a "much stronger" response to any chemical weapons attack in Syria, as the US bolsters its regional military presence in preparation. "Don't let that happen!"

Bolton's words echo his earlier warnings in August that the United States would respond "very strongly" if Assad's forces were to use chemical weapons in a bit to retake Idlib.

Erdogan called for a "truce", while Russia's president said Damascus "has a right and must eventually take under control all of its national territory".

In another show of force, the Pentagon launched a surprise exercise in southern Syria on Friday after Russian Federation threatened military action in an area of Syria where US troops are located. In a paper published on Friday, O'Hanlon and his colleagues at Brookings argued for a "10-degree shift" in USA policy on Syria that includes maintaining the current military presence in the northeast and east, and working with Assad's allies, such as Russian Federation, to persuade him to eventually step down.

Kurdish security forces, known as Asayish, said that a government patrol entered the areas controlled by the Kurdish militia in Qamishli and began arresting civilians, then shot at a Kurdish checkpoint, sparking the gun battle.

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