The latest war of words between Washington, Moscow, and Damascus occurred on Thursday. The Syrian government of President Assad along with their Russian allies accused the United States of manufacturing a “provocation” in Syria. This was to be blamed on Assad and his government of preparing a chemical weapons attack as an excuse for the US and the coalition troops to attack.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry described the US allegations as “misleading” and “completely baseless.” It strongly stated that they reject the US’ claims that Syria is preparing for another chemical attack. The Syrians claim, that they’ve never used chemical weapons at all.
It said the objective of such allegations was to “justify a new aggression on Syria under ill-founded pretexts,” similar to what happened in April when the U.S. struck a Syrian air base, which it said had been used to stage a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed nearly 90.
Earlier this week, the White House has warned that Assad is preparing for another chemical attack and said that the Syrian ruler will “pay a heavy price” if he unleashes it.
Also Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow has received information that Syrian rebels have already fabricated video materials to accuse Damascus of a chemical attack.
She said that according to the information Russia has, Syrian towns of Saraqib and Arihah could serve as venues for the “provocation.” Both towns are located in the province of Idlib in northwestern Syria and are controlled by the rebels.
She claimed that such action could be aimed at derailing the next round of Syria peace talks brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran, which is set for next week in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana. The meeting is meant to determine specifics related to safety zones in Syria.
Zakharova’s strongly-worded statement reflect soaring tensions between Moscow and Washington even as U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are expected to hold their first meeting at the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Germany.
The U.S. in April struck the Shayrat air base in central Syria, which it said had been used to stage a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun. The Pentagon said the preparations detected by the U.S. occurred at the same Shayrat air base which the U.S. named as the platform for launching the April attack.
The Syrian government has denied it ever used banned chemicals, and it rejected Washington’s latest allegations.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Larionov was asked by the press what the Russian response would be if the Syrians are indeed attacked again by the US, and he stated only “proportionate.”
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