Pope seeks talks to avert Syria 'catastrophe'

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif shake hands prior to surprise talks in Ankara likely to have focused on Syria where an offensive is expected against rebel-held Idlib province

The Syrian government denied the accusations and said that the Jaish al-Islam terror group staged the attack to encourage foreign intervention in Syria.

Damascus has mobilised forces for an expected offensive on the adjacent rebel-held area in and around Idlib province, which humanitarian agencies have warned could spark a new flood of displacement towards the border region.

It bracketed HTS as a variant name for Al-Nusra Front.

Turkey already considered the Nusra Front terrorists but the group rebranded itself in January 2017 and merged with other jihadist groups under the Levant Liberation Committee. On Friday, however, Turkey officially declared the group a terrorist movement, a designation also used for the group by the United States and European Union.

France's foreign minister says Syrian President Bashar Assad has won his country's civil war but won't "win the peace" without a political solution brokered by the global community.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, speaking after talks with Lavrov in Moscow on Thursday, said government forces will "go all the way" in the militant-held northern region of Idlib, but that they did not have and would not use chemical weapons.

While the Assad regime is aiming to announce to the world that "it won the civil war" by taking Idlib, Russia has also been planning to stop attacks from Idlib to its bases in Latakia. "But he hasn't won the peace".

While he quickly backed away from talk of an immediate withdrawal, his underlying determination to leave Syria's seven-year war as soon as possible seems unchanged.

The U.S.is anxious that the Syrian army will eliminate all the weapons that it and its regional allies can use to exert pressure on Damascus, especially since the battle of Idlib is the last stage of the liberation of Syria's entire geography.

Spacey avoids prosecution in assault claims
Beverly Hills police previous year investigated Seagal after a woman reported he had raped her on January 1, 1993. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office made no comments today on the merits of the accusations.

Speaking during Angelus prayers, the pope urged the worldwide community and other actors "to make use of the instruments of diplomacy, dialogue and negotiations, in compliance with global humanitarian law and to safeguard the lives of civilians".

The looming battle for Idlib in northwestern Syria may be the last in the bloody seven years of conflict, which have backed hundreds of thousands of civilians into this deadly corner of the country with nowhere to run.

That's where Syrian opposition forces have dug trenches around their bases, anticipating a ground offensive on their last major stronghold.

Western powers have warned Syrian troops could use toxic substances against the civilian population as they seek to recapture Idlib.

In a statement, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said Syrian regime forces were responsible for the majority of the fatalities.

Syrian pro-government media initially blamed the blasts on Israel.

A war monitor says Russian Federation resumed air strikes on the opposition and rebel-held Syrian province on Tuesday.

The government has blamed Israel for previous attacks on the airport. John Bolton's recent threat of the possibility of an American missile strike against Syria can also be interpreted in this context.

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