Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Sputnik on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed to maintain their dialogue focusing on the conflict in Syria and the situation in the country's Idlib de-escalation zone, following the Russia-Turkey-Iran summit in Tehran.
On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Defense Department may be mulling the idea of striking Russian or Iranian military forces aiding the Syrian government if they were to launch an assault on Idlib. The report added that the United States would specifically decide whether to strike Russian air defense installations.
“Syria, Russia and Iran should know that the United States and the rest of the world are watching very closely and will take appropriate action if there is a new slaughter in Idlib,” Pentagon spokesperson Commander Sean Robertson told Sputnik on Monday.
The commander said the United States is closely monitoring the situation in Idlib and has engaged the Russian government and military at the most senior level to make clear that the United States and its partners will respond swiftly to any verified chemical weapon use in the province or elsewhere in the country.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton said earlier on Monday that the United States, Britain and France have agreed that any use of chemical weapons by the government of Syria would result in a much stronger response than in previous incidents.
Senior Russian defense officials have warned since late August that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance of radical jihadis led by the Jabhat al-Nusra terror organization, was preparing a false-flag attack in Idlib to later accuse Damascus of using chemical weapons.
The Syrian government has pledged to drive the remaining terrorists out of Idlib and has begun taking steps toward full-scale military operations in the territory.