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The Latest: President tells Turkey in talks about Idlib



MOSCOW – The latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):

20:55

The Turkish president says his country is in talks with Iran and Russia to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria's rebels Region of Idlib similar to one that was developed in 2016 in Aleppo.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on Thursday of a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and a planned meeting of Turkish, Russian and Iranian leaders next month. 19659005] The Syrian government forces were expected to launch an offensive in Idlib, which could create the fear that it might become the site of the recent humanitarian disaster.

The Battle of Aleppo destroyed half the city and drove out hundreds of thousands of civilians, many of whom could not return.

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5:00

The UN Special Envoy for Syria suggests that civilians relocate the rebel-held Idlib region to government-controlled areas and warn that nearly 3 million people in the region have one "perfect storm" and a "frightening" military escalation could happen.

Staffan de Mistura told reporters on Thursday that there are about 10,000 Al Qaeda-bound militants and their families living in the densely populated region, which today has 2.9 million people, many of whom are already 7 1/2 years of war.

De Mistura has conducted several rounds of negotiations with the Syrian warring parties in recent years, making little progress in ending the conflict.

He said on Thursday that the evacuation proposal was "potentially possible" and that he himself could travel to the region to help with surveillance.

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13:40

Russia has announced major military exercises in the Mediterranean in the face of growing tensions in a rebel-held enclave in Syria.

The Ministry of Defense told Russian news agencies on Thursday that Russia would station 25 ships, including a rocket, ruiser and 30 jets for the maneuvers in the first week of September. The military says the exercises will focus on defending against air and submarines.

It states that Moscow has briefed international organizations on the exercises that could make it dangerous for aircraft and ships to operate in the area. After NATO reported a Russian naval march in the Mediterranean, drills were announced.

Russia has given military support to the Syrian government forces, which are to launch an offensive in the northern province of Idlib, the country's last major rebel stronghold.

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