Russia To Launch Major Naval Drills In Mediterranean As Syria Tensions Rise

Russia To Launch Major Naval Drills In Mediterranean As Syria Tensions Rise

Russia To Launch Major Naval Drills In Mediterranean As Syria Tensions Rise

Idlib province is the last major rebel-held area in Syria, serving as what the United Nations has called a "dumping ground" for fighters and civilians evacuated from other battles.

The evacuation proposal reflected rising concerns that Idlib could become the site of the latest humanitarian disaster in a country that has faced many of them during a war that has killed over 400,000 people and driven more than 5.5 million to flee overseas.

For his part, Muallem said the Syrian forces will "go all the way" in Idlib but added that the army will do everything possible to avoid civilian deaths.

"We can see that there is a very swift mobilisation of the worldwide community taking place particularly with regards to the return of the refugees and the revival of socioeconomic assets and facilities to make sure the country gets back to working order", he said.

Idlib is home to almost three million people, up to half of whom are rebels and civilians transferred en masse from other areas such as Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta and Deraa after they fell to Syrian pro-government forces following heavy fighting.

"We have engaged the Russian Government and also the military at the most senior level". The country has been consumed by war since demonstrations broke out against Assad in 2011.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said "terrorists" must be wiped out in Idlib, accusing them of using civilians as human shields. He also spoke of "warnings and counter-warnings" between the United States and Russian Federation, though he did not elaborate.

"The United States has taken a very strong stance in the past when chemical weapons have been used".

The U.S., Britain and France have warned they will respond to any use of chemical weapons in Syria.

"Why such a hurry, and not provide more time in order to allow more discussions, especially among the Astana guarantors?", de Mistura said, referring to Russia, Iran and Turkey.

"We definitely intend to discuss it very intensely with the government", de Mistura said.

"Now every opportunity has been created for the return of roughly one million (more) refugees", said Shoigu.

Russia's Ministry of Defence said on Thursday it would hold a major naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea from September 1 to September 8, the TASS news agency reported, a move that coincides with rising tensions between Moscow and Washington over Syria.

The drills were announced after North Atlantic Treaty Organisation reported a Russian naval buildup in the Mediterranean - part of what a Russian newspaper on Tuesday called Moscow's largest naval build-up since it entered the Syrian conflict in 2015.

They would involve anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and anti-mining exercises.

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