Airstrikes hit last bastion of Syrian rebels as final showdown looms

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Russian Federation said on Tuesday that the Syrian regime army is getting ready to solve the problem of "terrorism" in the rebel stronghold of Idlib, apparently referring to a looming regime offensive.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights recorded more than a dozen strikes around the northern city of Jisr al-Shughour in Idlib province.

Assad has vowed to defeat the opposition in its last refuge in the province if the rebels do not surrender to government rule.

During their meeting, Zarif and Assad "asserted that the pressures from some Western states on Syria and Tehran will not deter the two countries from continuing to defend their principles", the Syrian president's office said in a statement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Idlib is a pocket of terrorism, and that the situation there is undermining efforts to find a political resolution to the Syrian conflict.

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A war monitor says Russian Federation resumed air strikes on the opposition and rebel-held Syrian province on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey was discussing joint action with Russian Federation to target terrorist groups in Idlib while avoiding a full-scale offensive.

He and Peskov said Idlib would be a major subject of discussion at the September 7 summit meeting between Russia's Vladimir Putin, Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan and Iran's Hassan Rouhani.

Tuesday's air strikes came hours after U.S. President Donald Trump warned Assad and his allies not to "recklessly attack" Idlib, saying that hundreds of thousands might die.

Russian air raids ceased in and around Idlib on August 15, but pro-regime forces have maintained an aerial bombardment and shelling there, the war monitor said.

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But Turkey, whose army has a string of observation posts around the edge of the rebel area, has warned against such an offensive. "Don't let that happen!"

Since Russia's entry into the war on his side in 2015, Assad and his other close allies, Iran and a group of regional Shi'ite militias it backs, have forced the rebels from a succession of bastions including Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta and Deraa.

With some 3 million people now living in Idlib and the surrounding area, United Nations officials have warned that a government offensive could displace 800,000 people.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will host his Turkish and Russian counterparts Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, respectively, on Friday in an attempt to find ways to end the ongoing crisis in Syria. "It is from there (Idlib) that drones are launched to threaten our temporary bases [in Syria]", Peskov said.

"Russia seeks to ensure not just the regime's military victory in Syria but its full political restoration through global re-legitimation at war's end".

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But analysts still say the United States appears resigned to the likelihood of a final military victory by Syrian government forces.

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