Rus­sian mil­i­tary says to re­spond if U.S. strikes Syria

Tehran Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A top Rus­sian gen­eral says his coun­try will re­spond to a United States strike on Syria, tar­get­ing any mis­siles and launch­ers in­volved in such an at­tack, if the lives of Rus­sian ser­vice­men are threat­ened.

“There are many Rus­sian ad­vis­ers, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Rus­sian Cen­ter for Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of Op­pos­ing Sides and ser­vice­men in Da­m­as­cus and at Syr­ian de­fense fa­cil­i­ties,” the RIA news agency quoted head of Rus­sia’s Gen­eral Staff Valery Gerasi­mov as say­ing.

The warn­ing came a day af­ter the U.S. Am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions Nikki Ha­ley said Wash­ing­ton was ready to uni­lat­er­ally “act” against Syria, just as it did last year when it bombed a Syr­ian gov­ern­ment air base over al­le­ga­tions of a chem­i­cal weapons at­tack.

He said “the U.S. plans to ac­cuse the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment troops of us­ing chem­i­cal weapons, and to pro­vide the world com­mu­nity with the so-called ev­i­dence of the al­leged mass death of civil­ians at the hands of the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment” and “Rus­sia sup­port­ing it.”

Wash­ing­ton, he said, plans to launch a mis­sile at­tack on gov­ern­ment-held dis­tricts of the Syr­ian cap­i­tal, Da­m­as­cus, adding that Mos­cow has “re­li­able in­for­ma­tion about mil­i­tants pre­par­ing to fal­sify a gov­ern­ment chem­i­cal at­tack against civil­ians.”

Ac­cord­ing to Gerasi­mov, the mil­i­tants have brought a crowd of civil­ians, in­clud­ing women and chil­dren, into East­ern Ghouta from other re­gions to rep­re­sent them as vic­tims of the planned chem­i­cal at­tack, while film and satel­lite video trans­mit­ters are al­ready in place.

“This has been con­firmed by the dis­cov­ery of a lab­o­ra­tory for the pro­duc­tion of chem­i­cal weapons in the vil­lage of Aftris, which was lib­er­ated from ter­ror­ists,” Gerasi­mov said.

The gen­eral added, how­ever, that “de­spite con­stant at­tempts by mil­i­tants to dis­rupt peace ini­tia­tives in East­ern Ghouta, the sit­u­a­tion in the sub­urb of Da­m­as­cus shows a trend to­ward sta­bi­liza­tion.”

On Mon­day, Syria’s en­voy to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari also slammed the new U.S. mil­i­tary threats, say­ing Ha­ley’s com­ments are aimed at pro­vok­ing a chem­i­cal at­tack by ter­ror­ists and fab­ri­cat­ing ev­i­dence against Da­m­as­cus.

For the past sev­eral years, the flash­point en­clave, home to some 400,000 peo­ple, has been un­der the con­trol of mul­ti­ple for­eign-backed ter­ror groups, par­tic­u­larly the so-called Jaish al-Is­lam (Jaysh al-Is­lam/ Army of Is­lam/Bri­gade of Is­lam) Tak­firi out­fit and the al-Nusra Front (Jab­hat al-Nusra/Jab­hat Fateh al-Sham), which have prac­ti­cally cap­ti­vated the civil­ians and use them as hu­man shield against the gov­ern­ment’s lib­er­at­ing forces.

Syr­ian troops, backed by the Rus­sian air force, have launched a full-scale of­fen­sive to crush the ter­ror out­fits, which con­stantly launch mor­tar at­tacks against res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hoods in and around Da­m­as­cus, killing and wound­ing dozens of peo­ple.

Civil­ian evac­u­a­tions

Mean­time, Rus­sia and Syria have set up safe cor­ri­dors for civil­ians to leave East­ern Ghouta, but mil­i­tants holed up in the re­gion have been shelling the safe routes to block the evac­u­a­tion process.

Ear­lier in the day, Syr­ian state TV showed a group of civil­ians, in­clud­ing sick and in­jured peo­ple leav­ing mil­i­tant-held ar­eas in East­ern Ghouta into gov­ern­ment ter­ri­tory on Tues­day.

Yasser Del­wan with the Jaish al-Is­lam mil­i­tant group, also said a group of pa­tients had left un­der a deal for a med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion with Rus­sia through the United Na­tions.

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