USA officials have said in recent days they have evidence that Syrian regime forces are preparing chemical weapons ahead of a planned assault on an opposition and rebel-held enclave in Idlib in the northwestern part of the country.
Last week the French ambassador, whose country also vowed to strike Syria if what it deems credible chemical allegations emerge, said during a U.N. Security Council meeting on Idlib: "Syria is once again at the edge of an abyss".
Some of the heaviest bombardment in weeks hit Idlib and nearby areas on Saturday, killing at least nine civilians before coming to a halt by the evening, the Observatory said.
The administration is "trying to send a clear warning" to the Assad regime, said Melissa Dalton, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
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Idlib makes up a major chunk of Syria's northwest corner, the last bastion of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.
About 2.9 million people live in the opposition-held area, which comprises most of Idlib province and adjacent small parts of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.
"The Astana process is ongoing, and with the help of the process we will have tangible results", he said, referring to the trilateral process with Iran and Turkey.
He went on to explain that in the event of Erdogan "selling Idlib", militants will use the tunnel to cross into Turkey, to potentially carry out attacks against civilians and security forces.
According to Dr Habib Khashouf, a member of the doctors' union in Idlib province, as of September 9, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who arrived at the camps in northern Idlib province during the recent escalation stood at 8,000.
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The intense air raids came a day after Iran and Russian Federation backed a military campaign in the rebel-held area despite Turkey's pleas for a ceasefire.
More than 3 million people live in the rebel-held territory, almost half of them already displaced from fighting elsewhere in Syria.
The Observatory described the attacks on the rebel-held areas as the "most intense" since August and said they killed four in Abdeen, west of Khan Sheikhoun town, including two children and a woman.
"We had come (to Idlib) without anything", he said.
Iran and Russian Federation have backed a military campaign on Idlib involving Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces, despite Turkey's pleas for a cease-fire.
"The Turkish border is sealed, the Turks have kept that border quite tightly shut for the past few years, so al-Assad's opponents don't have anywhere to run to", she said.
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