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Turkey regards the presence of its troops inside Idlib as a deterrent against a large-scale assault by forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies.

At a three-way summit between Russia, Iran and Turkey on Friday, President Vladimir Putin rejected Erdogan's call for a truce in Idlib, home to about 3 million civilians.

The intense air raids came a day after Iran and Russian Federation backed a military campaign in the rebel-held area despite Turkey's pleas for a ceasefire.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 21 pro-regime fighters had been killed in an Isil ambush on Monday in southern Syria.

The raids targeted jihadist and rebel positions, some of which were empty and others in use, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

For weeks, regime troops backed by Russian Federation and Iran have massed around Idlib's periphery, with deadly airstrikes, shelling, and barrel bombs falling with increased intensity in recent days. Many have previously refused to surrender to the regime.

Idlib marks the latest critical juncture in a seven-year conflict that's killed more than half a million people.

"Every time it follows us, we escape a meter to the north and leave it up to God, where will we go?" he said.

"Russia is reminding Turkey it needs to stay in Russia's good graces if Turkey wants to avoid a painful catastrophe in north-west Syria", Mr Heras told Agence France-Presse.

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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.

U.N. Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura began two days of talks in Geneva on Monday with senior officials from Russia, Iran and Turkey on forming a Constitutional Committee in Syria, but which were expected to be overshadowed by the Idlib crisis. Turkey has troops and 12 observations points that circle Idlib. "And no number of Security Council meetings will ever change that".

"We had come (to Idlib) without anything", he said.

"Perhaps Putin has come to the conclusion that the gap between Turkey and the West has reached an unbridgeable distance, and that he can disregard Ankara's wishes regarding Idlib because he sees that Turkey has nowhere to go in addition to being ever-more dependent on Russian Federation and Iran for energy", he said.

Although no decision has been made to strike Assad's forces, he noted that the president "expects us to have military options, and we have provided updates to him on the development of those military options".

Jeffrey, the new Syria envoy, and Joel Rayburn, the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, likely worked hard in recent weeks to convince the president that maintaining a longer-term US presence in Syria is crucial to keeping Russian and Iranian influence in the region at bay, Dalton said.

Pro-government forces have massed on the edges of Idlib, wedged into Syria's northwest along the Turkish border.

The state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV said Saturday that Syrian government was retaliating against rebel shelling on a government-held south of Idlib.


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