Turkey says it told U.S. that Kurdish militants must leave Syria

ANKARA - Turkey told the United States on Tuesday that Kurdish militants must completely abandon Syria, the Turkish defense ministry said, as violence in the rebel-held northern Syrian enclave of Idlib escalated.
Earlier on Tuesday, Russia resumed its air strikes against insurgents in Idlib after 22 days, following weeks of aerial bombardment and shelling against rebels by pro-Syrian government forces in an apparent prelude to a full-scale offensive.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has sworn to recapture every inch of Syria and has made big gains against rebels since Russia joined his war effort in 2015.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Iran, which also backs Assad, was making efforts to remove militants from Idlib with the least human cost.
Turkey, which has backed some rebels against Assad, has previously said that a military operation into Idlib, the last major rebel enclave in the country, would be disastrous.
US President Donald Trump warned Assad and his allies on Monday not to "recklessly attack" Idlib, saying hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Russia, however, dismissed the comments and said the area was a "nest of terrorism."
During talks in Ankara on Tuesday, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told US special representative for Syria, James Jeffrey, that Turkey wanted Kurdish militants to fully abandon the region, the ministry said in a statement.
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