The conquest of Idlib will allow Syrian leader Bashar Assad to regain full control of the country and the Teheran summit meeting between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is where the future of Syria is now being discussed.
While Turkish leader Erdogan proposed a ceasefire in the rebel-dominated bastion of Idlib in northwestern parts of Syria, President Putin affirmed that Russian Federation opposes the call for any truce with the rebels in the hope that the rebels opposing Assad's rule "would have the common sense to lay down their weapons and surrender". Rouhani said Syria must regain control over all its territory.
For the Syrian government and Russian Federation, the province is also strategically important because it borders Latakia Province, Assad's main stronghold and the site of Russia's biggest air base in the country as well as its naval facility.
Tehran and Moscow have helped Assad turn the course of the war against opponents including Western-backed rebels and Islamist militants.
Their discussions in Tehran mark a crucial point in a seven-year-old war which has killed more than half a million people and forced 11 million to flee their homes.
The airstrikes Friday come hours before presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey meet in Tehran to discuss the war in Syria, with all eyes on a possible military offensive to retake bastion of Idlib.
To which Putin replied: "The fact is there are no representatives of the armed opposition at our table", citing the al-Nusra front and the so-called Islamic State extremist group. "I think declaring a ceasefire would be a victory for this summit".
That also includes an estimated 10,000 hardcore militants, including those linked to Al Qaeda. But there were other armed opposition groups who could join any ceasefire agreement, they said.
In addition, he called for speeding up the formation of a constitutional committee in Syria.
He called on all rebels in Syria to disarm and seek a peaceful end to the conflict.
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The two leaders, along with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke at a summit meeting in Tehran to discuss the future of Syria as a bloody military operation looms in the last opposition and rebel-held area of the war-ravaged nation.
A member of the Syrian Civil Defence walks through the wreckage of their center which was destroyed by government forces' bombardment in the town of al-Tamana on the southern edges of the rebel-held Idlib province, September 6, 2018.
Erdogan said Turkey no longer had the capacity to take in any more refugees from Syria should the government offensive in Idlib go ahead.
Noting that Turkey hosts 3.5 million refugees, he said: "Idlib's population is now 3.5 million". Chariman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Joseph Dunford warned against a large scale Assad-forces attack in Idlib as that might lead to a humaniterian disaster. They are now coming towards our borders.
The Assad government was not directly represented at the summit, nor were the United States and other Western powers.
One of the targets of the sanctions are businessman Muhammad al-Qatirji and a trucking company he owns, that, the Treasury said, facilitated trade in fuels between the Syrian government and Islamic State, even though the government, with the assistance of Russian Federation, is officially fighting this same Islamic State and most of it has been driven out of territories it occupied in Syria previously.
Meanwhile, the fate of Idlib hung in the balance.
The United States, France, and Britain have warned, however, that they would take action if Assad uses chemical weapons in his assault on Idlib, as he allegedly has done in battles to retake other parts of the country.
"The dangers are profound that any battle for Idlib could be, would be a horrific and bloody battle", de Mistura said.