Russia Says U.S. Plans to Strike Damascus, Pledges Military Response.
MOSCOW, March 13 (Reuters) – Russia said on Tuesday it had information that the United States planned to bomb the government quarter in Damascus on an invented pretext, and said it would respond militarily if it felt Russian lives were threatened by such an attack.
Valery Gerasimov, head of Russia’s General Staff, said Moscow had information that rebels in the enclave of eastern Ghouta were planning to fake a chemical weapons attack against civilians and blame it on the Syrian army.
He said the United States intended to use the fake attack as a pretext to bomb the government quarter in nearby Damascus where he said Russian military advisers, Russian military police and Russian ceasefire monitors were based.
“In the event of a threat to the lives of our servicemen, Russia’s armed forces will take retaliatory measures against the missiles and launchers used,” Gerasimov said in a statement.
He did not say when the alleged attack would take place or provide detailed evidence to back his assertions.
In Washington, the Pentagon said Russia should focus on stopping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from targeting innocent civilians.
“We urge Russia to stop creating distractions and compel the Assad regime to stop brutalizing innocent Syrian citizens and allow much-needed aid to reach the people of East Ghouta and other remote areas,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said.
“By enabling the Assad regime’s brutality, Russia is morally complicit and responsible for Assad’s atrocities,” Pahon added.
During the Syrian army’s offensive in eastern Ghouta, more than 1,100 civilians have died, the U.N. Office of Humanitarian Affairs said. Assad’s forces, backed by Russia and Iran, say they are targeting “terrorist” groups shelling the capital.
The head of Russia’s military General Staff and chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke by phone on Tuesday and discussed the situation in Syria, the Pentagon and Russian defense ministry said.
Russia has previously accused rebels in Syria of preparing to use toxic agents in eastern Ghouta so they could later accuse Damascus of employing chemical weapons.
Damascus denies Western allegations that government forces have used chemical weapons.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned on Monday that Washington “remains prepared to act if we must,” if the U.N. Security Council failed to act on Syria, as the Syrian army’s onslaught in eastern Ghouta continued unabated. (Reporting by Andrew Osborn in Moscow and Idrees Ali in Washington. Editing by Andrey Ostroukh and Lisa Shumaker)
This article was originally published by “Reuters” –
March 14, 2018 “Information Clearing House“ –
US Officially Threatens To Strike Syrian Army
By Syrian War Report
On March 12, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley actually threatened that the US will strike Syrian government forces if they don’t halt their operation against terrorists in Eastern Ghouta.
“We also warn any nation that is determined to impose its will through chemical attacks and inhuman suffering, most especially the outlaw Syrian regime, the United States remains prepared to act if we must,” Haley said.
The US diplomat proposed a new UN ceasefire resolution that “will take effect immediately upon adoption by this Council. It contains no counterterrorism loopholes for Assad, Iran and the Russians to hide behind”.
|March 14, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –|
According to Haley, the previous resolution “failed” because it had allowed the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies to conduct operation in Eastern Ghouta against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and other militant groups.
Russian ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia reacted by saying that Syria has all the legal right to fight terrorism near its capital. The US-drafted document was not put to the vote on March 12.
On the same day, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that infighting had erupted among militant groups in Eastern Ghouta following a Russian proposal of safe passage out of the region for militants and their families which also demanded that Faylaq al-Rahman separate from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
The SAA liberated the village of Aftris where it found a militant chemical weapons workshop and advanced on Jisrin, Saqba and Hamuriyah.
Jaish al-Islam, which is the key group in the area of Douma, also claimed that no negotiations are ongoing between it and the government over a surrender or withdrawal agreement.
Reports are circulating that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have started handing over checkpoints near Tell Rifaat, the Menagh airbase and nearby villages to the government’s National Defense Forces. However, the situation remains unclear.
Even if the reports are true, this may be too late for the YPG to reach any wide-scale deal with Damascus because the YPG-held city of Afrin is almost cut off from the government-held area by Turkish forces.
This article was originally published by “South Front” –
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