Iran's Zarif in Syria for talks ahead of Idlib offensive

Syria blasts at Mezzeh military airport 'not Israeli strikes'

Israel has previously launched strikes against Syrian territories and accused of targeting the Mazzeh airport, but has not officially acknowledged it as a target.

Turkey has been working with Iran and Russian Federation to find a peaceful solution to the Idlib crisis, warning that a full-scale operation on the province would result in a humanitarian disaster.

Iran called on Monday for militants to be "cleaned out" of Syria's Idlib province, as it prepared for talks with Syria and Russian Federation about confronting the last major enclave held by rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Washington views the government assault on Idlib as an escalation of Syria's war, and the State Department warned that Washington would respond to any chemical attack by Damascus.

Iran is voicing support for an impending Syrian offensive to recapture the last remaining major opposition stronghold, saying the Idlib region in northwestern Syria should be cleared of "terrorists".

In their meeting Monday, Assad and Zarif also discussed what they called "western pressure" on their two countries, in apparent reference to the US sanctions on Iran and calls for limiting Iran's role in Syria.

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Zarif was due to meet with Assad, according to semi-official news agency ISNA.

Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami was in Damascus last week and signed a "defense and technical agreement" created to ensure the continued "presence and participation" of Iran in Syria.

Also in a meeting with Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi in Damascus in May, the Syrian president said the development of economic cooperation with Iran and all the countries that insist on defending their sovereignty and independence is one of the most important ways to confront Western plots.

Iranian media quoted Zarif saying Idlib should be put back under control of the Syrian people, and that reconstruction efforts in Syria and the return of refugees should go forward. The Idlib area includes both rebel groups and militants such as the Nusrah Front.

Assad's government has long referred to any opposition fighters as "terrorists".

The Al-Tanf base, set up in 2016 near the borders with Iraq and Jordan, was also used for the training of so-called "vetted opposition" to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

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