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Although the presence of Turkish forces in Idlib could complicate Damascus' plans to retake the province and risk direct military confrontation between Turkey and Syria, the Syrian government has insisted it will liberate Idlib even if Erdogan does not withdraw his forces. Turkey has troops stationed in Idlib and 12 observations posts around the province as part of the pact.

The father of one told Al Jazeera that they were forced to flee Jisr al-Shoghour, a town in southwestern Idlib province, and seek refuge in the relative safety of the countryside.

"As the Russian strikes have intensified over the past 10 days, there's been a major displacement from southern Idlib and northern Hama (province) toward the Syrian-Turkish border".

Abu Jassim said he and his family were fleeing the latest bombardment near the southern town of Khan Sheikhun, after already having been displaced several times within the province due to the war.

In another show of force, the Pentagon launched a surprise exercise in southern Syria on Friday after Russian Federation threatened military action in an area of Syria where USA troops are located. "Russia, Iran and Turkey have demonstrated, not on paper but in real life, that they can find compromise solutions in the most hard situations".

The talks in Geneva under United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura come amid concerns that he and other United Nations officials have expressed about a looming battle for northern Idlib province - the last remaining rebel stronghold in Syria after 7 1/2 years of war that is now home to some 3 million civilians.

Russian Federation has said it wants all militants to be pushed out of Idlib and that it avoids civilians and targets only radical al Qaeda-inspired groups.

Erdogan added that the United States, which is focused on chemical attacks by the Assad regime, needed to "reject its arbitrary hierarchy of death".

Pro-government forces have massed on the edges of Idlib, wedged into Syria's northwest along the Turkish border. In a paper published on Friday, O'Hanlon and his colleagues at Brookings argued for a "10-degree shift" in USA policy on Syria that includes maintaining the current military presence in the northeast and east, and working with Assad's allies, such as Russian Federation, to persuade him to eventually step down.

If chemical weapons are used, National Security Adviser John Bolton promised the USA would deliver a counterattack that's even more severe than the two previous assaults authorized by Trump. Clashes rarely erupt there over turf control and authority, and are usually a reflection of deepening political tension between the uneasy partners.

There was no immediate word about the clashes from the government.

The US-backed Kurdish administration has recently begun talking with the Syrian government, seeking government recognition of its self-rule areas.

The Kurdish-led administration control almost 30 percent of Syria, mostly in the northeastern part of the country, including some of Syria's largest oil fields.

With US-led support, Syria's Kurds played a key role in the war against the Islamic State group, during which they seized large swathes of northern and northeastern Syria.


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