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Syria’s al-Qaida leader vows to fight on in rebel province

BEIRUT — The leader of Syria’s al Qaeda affiliate has vowed to fight on in Idlib province, the country’s last major rebel stronghold, in the face of a possible government offensive there.

The rare public statement by Abu Mohammed al-Golani came as President Bashar Assad’s forces have been sending reinforcements into areas around Idlib in the country’s northwest.

The United States, Britain, and France have expressed concern at reports of the Syrian military targeting civilians, schools, hospitals, and infrastructure in Idlib.

In Jerusalem, US National Security Adviser John Bolton on Wednesday warned Syria against using chemical weapons as it prepares to launch an offensive on Idlib.


‘‘We are obviously concerned about the possibility that Assad may use chemical weapons again,” Bolton said. “We had hoped that our strikes had created structures of deterrents to convince the Assad regime not to do that. But, just so there’s no confusion here, if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons we will respond very strongly.’’