Middle East

‘US warning of possible Syrian chemical attack is provocation’

Syrian chemical attack

Moscow, June 28 : Russian lawmakers dismissed the US warning of a possible chemical attack by the regime of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad as a “provocation” aimed at justifying its own plan to strike the Syrian government forces.

“Declaring the possibility of a new chemical attack in Syria, Washington may itself prepare a pre-emptive strike against government forces,” said Konstantin Kosachov, head of the International Committee of the Russian Federation Council, the Upper House of Russian Parliament, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

If the US knows of an attack, it is not trying to “prevent it” but instead “shift the blame for it to the undesirable Syrian leader, which is a form of complicity in the crime”, Kosachov said.

US White House spokesman Sean Spicer issued a statement Monday night, warning that the US had “identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians.”

Leonid Slutsky, head of the International Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma, the Lower House of the Parliament, said Tuesday he was convinced that the US accusations were “unsubstantiated and provocative”.

“If in this case another chemical attack follows and Assad will be accused of this, then there will be air strikes of the US Air Force against Assad’s army targets, which is obviously the next stage of provocation,” Slutsky said.

The Kremlin denied on Tuesday knowledge of any new threat of using chemical weapons.

In a phone conversation with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Washington to take measures to prevent provocations against Syrian government troops conducting operations against terrorists, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement.

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