Britain's Ambassador to the United Nations Karen Pierce on Friday named several Syrian generals and their units stationed around rebel-held Idlib province, warning in the Security Council that they would be punished for any major military offensive on civilians.
Iran's Rouhani said the battle in Syria would continue until rebels were pushed out of the whole country, especially in Idlib, but he added that any military operations should avoid hurting civilians.
In her remarks at the U.N. Security Council, Haley said the USA has been clear with Russian Federation and other nations that "we consider any assault on Idlib to be a unsafe escalation of the conflict in Syria".
Syria's prime minister Imad Khamis, in a Thursday speech in Damascus, vowed the opposition-held province "will soon return to the embrace of the homeland".
A Syrian woman sits on a straw mat next to children outside a tent at a camp for displaced civilians fleeing from advancing government forces near the village of Sarman in the rebel-held northwestern Idlib province, September 1, 2018.
A Syrian government offensive on Idlib could be the seven-year-long conflict's last decisive battle.
Turkey backs numerous rebel groups in the province but recently moved toward its negotiating partners in declaring that the Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly known as the Al-Nusra Front, is a "terrorist organization" that should be eliminated.
"People should be granted safe passage to places of their own choosing if they want to leave", Staffan de Mistura told a Security Council meeting on the crisis in Idlib.
Hossein Jaberi Ansari, a senior aide to Iran's foreign minister, told state TV on Thursday the final statement for the summit had already been "finalized" by senior representatives of the three countries.
"The least the summit can do is to prevent this military war", he said.
"We hope that we will be able to reach an agreement and that our call for reconciliation in the Idlib area will be heard", the Russian president said.
"We think it's unacceptable when (someone) is trying to shield the terrorists under the pretext of protecting civilians as well as causing damage to Syrian government troops", Putin said.
Assad's government has been massing thousands of troops in preparation for an assault. "Any attack on Idlib would result in a catastrophe".
Western powers, which never formally entered the conflict other than to back Kurdish-led militias instrumental in ousting the extremist group Islamic State (IS) from its northern stronghold in 2017, have largely watched the brewing battle in Idlib from the sidelines.
Russia, which has been building up forces in the region, said it's only targeting al-Qaeda fighters, and accused the US of preparing to fake a chemical attack to justify new intervention. "Any offensive is to us as objectionable as a reckless escalation". President Trump has previously labelled Assad an "animal" for using the banned weapons, and called Iran and Russian Federation "responsible for backing" him. "There are a million children".
In a joint statement, the three leaders said the bloody civil war could only end through a negotiated political process. Citing Israel alongside the USA the Iranian leader claimed the two countries will not achieve their goals by arming the anti-Assad forces. Both Iran and Russian Federation are allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad and have been propping up his forces in Syria's civil war.
The Syrian army is now preparing for an offensive against Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold controlled by groups involving radical Islamists recognized as terrorist groups by the worldwide community.