U.S. military drawing up options should Syria use chemical weapons

US has seen evidence of Syria preparing chemical weapons in Idlib: envoy

The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey will meet in Tehran to discuss the war in Syria, with all eyes on a possible military offensive to retake the last rebel-held bastion of Idlib.

There is "lots of evidence" that chemical weapons are being prepared by Syrian government forces in Idlib in northwest Syria, the new United States adviser for Syria said on Thursday, as he warned of the risks of an offensive on the country's last big rebel enclave.

"Al-Qatirji and his company have been found to be working with ISIS militants and also maintain a strong working relationship with multiple officials within the Government of Syria", according to the announcement.

Trump's embrace of endless war in Syria was revealed just hours ahead of a high-stakes summit in Tehran on Friday between the presidents of Iran, Russia, and Turkey.

While President Donald Trump had signaled that he wanted USA forces out of Syria, in April he agreed to keep troops there a little longer.

Ankara fears a major assault on Idlib could spark an influx of refugees across its borders, and warned a military solution would only cause "disaster". "The Assad regime must halt its offensive ..." Jeffrey told the Post that "the new policy is we're no longer pulling out [U.S. troops] by the end of the year" and that the plan would also include a "major diplomatic initiative" to install a new government in Syria.

But Russia's President Vladimir Putin said Moscow opposed a truce, and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani said Syria must regain control over all its territory.

Instead, the U.S. military once again warned against a government offensive on the province, which is largely controlled by extremists, including the Al Qaeda affiliate known as Tahrir al-Sham (former Al Nusra Front), which it claimed would lead to a "humanitarian disaster".

"Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy", Trump tweeted earlier this week.

There was periodic cooperation between the United States and Russian Federation against the same jihadist groups operating in Idlib until mid-2017.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government is legitimate and should be respected. President Trump has previously labelled Assad an "animal" for using the banned weapons, and called Iran and Russian Federation "responsible for backing" him.

People in Idlib are demanding that regime troops back down. It insists it is the rebels who are planning a chemical attack. "We hope that the representatives of these terrorist organizations have enough common sense to surrender their weapons", he told reporters after the talks.

"We urge Russian Federation to consider its options carefully", Haley said, calling the approach Moscow has taken in Syria a "playbook of death".

Erdogan argued his country cannot take in any more Syrian refugees and argued that a "rational solution" to the Idlib situation should be reached.

In addition to attempting to expel Iranian forces, the Trump administration's new "strategy" in Syria will also consist of the "establishment of a stable, nonthreatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the global community", notes the Post. In July, Boltonhad foreshadowed the shift of the administration's Syria policy when he stated during an interview on ABC's Next Week with George Stephanopoulos that the US troops would remain in Syria indefinitely "as long as the Iranian menace continues throughout the Middle East".

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