MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin dismissed U.S. President Donald Trump’s warning to Syria not to launch an offensive in the rebel-held enclave of Idlib, saying on Tuesday that the area was a “nest of terrorism”.
Trump on Monday warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies Iran and Russia not to “recklessly attack” the northwestern Syrian province, saying hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.
“Just to speak out with some warnings, without taking into account the very dangerous, negative potential for the whole situation in Syria, is probably not a full, comprehensive approach,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
The presence of militants in Idlib was undermining the Syrian peace process and making the region a base for attacks on Russian forces in Syria, Peskov added.
“A fairly large group of terrorists has settled there and of course this leads to a general destabilisation of the situation. It undermines attempts to bring the situation onto the track of a political-diplomatic settlement,” he said.
“We know that Syria’s armed forces are preparing to resolve this problem,” he added.
Russia resumed air strikes against insurgents in Idlib province on Tuesday after a hiatus of several weeks, according to a Syrian rebel and a war monitor.
A source has told Reuters that Assad is preparing a phased offensive to regain the province.
The situation around Idlib will be one of the main items on the agenda when the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey meet in Tehran this week, Peskov told reporters on a conference call, declining to elaborate further.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth, Katya Golubkova, Christian Lowe, Writing by Tom Balmforth, Editing by Andrew Heavens, William Maclean)