President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he did not discuss assassinating Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, which journalist Bob Woodward has reported in his forthcoming book about Trump’s administration, according to multiple media outlets.
Trump, speaking to reporters during a visit with Kuwaiti ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, also said that if there is a slaughter in the Idlib province of Syria, the United States will be very angry. The Syrian military shelled Idlib, the last stronghold of active rebellion against al-Assad, on Wednesday as a war monitor said insurgents blew up a bridge in anticipation of a government offensive.
The Syrian military shelled the last stronghold of active rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday as a war monitor said insurgents blew up another bridge in anticipation of a government offensive.
Damascus, backed by allies Russia and Iran, has been preparing an assault to recover Idlib and adjacent areas of the northwest, and resumed air strikes along with Russia on Tuesday after weeks of lull.
Idlib’s fate now appears likely to rest on the results of Friday’s Tehran summit between the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran - a meeting that Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov on Wednesday said would make the situation “clearer”.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said Tuesday’s air strikes had only targeted militants and not struck populated areas. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said they had killed 13 civilians, including children, but no fighters.
The ministry said it had targeted buildings used to store weapons and explosives including a facility used to assemble explosive-packed drones that rebels have used to attack Russian planes stationed at Hmeymim air base.
Syrian state media and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that pro-government forces focused their shelling overnight and on Wednesday on the western and southern edges of the rebel enclave.
The countryside around Jisr al-Shughour in the west of the enclave was also the main target for Tuesday’s air strikes, rescue workers, a rebel source and the British-based Observatory said.
Turkey, which has a small military presence in observation posts it has erected along the frontlines between rebels and government forces, reiterated its warnings against an offensive.
Its president, Tayyip Erdogan, was quoted by a Turkish newspaper saying an attack on Idlib would be “a serious massacre” and he hoped for a positive outcome from a summit with Russian and Iranian leaders on the matter on Friday. (Reuters)