Russian Federation warned Western powers against any military intervention in Syria

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Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said "terrorists" must be wiped out in Idlib, accusing them of using civilians as human shields.

UN Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, told reporters there was a high concentration of foreign fighters in Idlib, including an estimated 10,000 terrorists, but it would be better to set up humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians than rush into a battle which could prove to be a "perfect storm".

"Our Syrian friends shared with us the information on the progress of their efforts to arrange more local reconciliations with the armed units stranded in Idlib and willing to break away from Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as on the efforts to ensure civilians' security in that zone of de-escalation", Lavrov said.

Ahmad Ramadan, a spokesman for the Syrian opposition's delegation to United Nations talks with the government, called de Mistura's proposal "unrealistic".

Russia, whose 2015 military intervention helped the government reclaim much of the ground it had lost, wants the jihadist outfit to disband, he said.

Russia, an ally of Syria, has provided military assistance to Syrian dictator President Bashar al-Assad to reestablish power in the country after it faced violence from the Syrian Civil War beginning in 2011 and the growth of ISIS.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday his country was engaged in talks with Iran and Russian Federation to avoid a humanitarian calamity in Idlib.

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The office of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday warned of the growing risk of a humanitarian catastrophe, and called for restraint.

"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. But HTS, the most dominant rebel force in Idlib in control of about 60 percent of the province, has not joined the coalition.

De Mistura stressed the need for "constructive, effective" support from Damascus, since the possible corridor would most likely need to lead into government-controlled territory.

"We will practise our legitimate right in defending ourselves, but the consequences of the aggression will hit the political process definitely and everyone will be [affected]", he said.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Russian news agencies that Moscow is willing to discuss "the details, the general idea and what practical solutions there are".

Russian Federation has been expanding its naval forces in the Mediterranean this month, part of what a newspaper has called Moscow's largest naval build-up since it entered the Syrian conflict in 2015. The drill will also involve 30 aircraft, including Tu-160 long-range bombers, Tu-142MK and Il-38 anti-submarine planes as well as Su-33 and Su-30SM fighter jets.

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