Airstrikes hit last bastion of Syrian rebels as final showdown looms

Pope warns of 'humanitarian catastrophe' in Syrian rebel bastion

Air strike in Syria kills eight pro-government fighters

In their meeting on Monday, Mr Assad and Mr Zarif also discussed what they called "western pressure" on their two countries, in apparent reference to the USA sanctions on Iran and calls for limiting Iran's role in Syria.

The air raids "came a day after rebel units in Idlib hit regime positions in neighboring Latakia province, which killed three pro-regime fighters", Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Rebel-backer Turkey has held several rounds of talks with regime ally Russian Federation aimed at averting an assault on Idlib, but government troops have been massing near the rebel zone.

Staffan de Mistura appealed to "President Putin and to President Erdogan, .to make a telephone call", even before they are set to meet with their Iranian counterpart in Tehran on Friday.

US President Donald Trump warned President al-Assad, as well as his Russian and Iranian allies, not to attack Idlib province, citing via a Twitter post Monday evening his fears of a "grave humanitarian mistake".

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I wasn't really listening to him (Lahyani). 'I can't really talk in detail about what happened. "I loved it", he said . It was not just about how you're feeling, 'Oh, I am not feeling well'. " I'm not sure it was encouragement ".

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.

The Russian Defense Ministry on August 25 said that militants enjoying active assistance from British secret services were plotting an operation to simulate what would be presented as the government forces' chemical attack against civilians.

The meeting will also discuss how to coordinate on continuing the political process and the counter-terrorism in Syria, he added.

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.

Heading a diplomatic delegation, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Syrian capital city of Damascus on Monday morning.

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The airstrikes targeted 10 areas in Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.

Since early 2017, Iran, fellow regime ally Russian Federation and rebel backer Turkey have sponsored a negotiations track based in the Kazakh capital to tamp down hostilities in Syria.

Zarif's visit to Syria comes a week after Iran's defense minister traveled to Damascus and signed a defense cooperation agreement, defying USA calls for Iran to withdraw its military advisers and fighters from the war-torn country.

Since Russia military intervened on Assad's behalf in 2015, the regime has regained much of the territory lost to fighters in the early years of the war.

Zarif said in Damascus that those talks also would focus on the battle against remaining militant groups that are fighting government forces in Syria.

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