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‘US warning of possible Syrian chemical attack is provocation’

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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.

Middle East

Russia to supply Syria with S-300 missile system

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Putin-and-Assad

Moscow, Sep 24 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad on Monday about his decision to strengthen Syria’s air defence, including providing it with an S-300 surface-to-air missile system.

“Both sides noted readiness for further joint efforts to achieve long-term normalization in Syria, restoration of its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity,” a Kremlin statement said, Xinhua news agency reported.

Earlier in the day, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia will supply an S-300 air defence system and identification, friend or foe equipment to Syria within two weeks after its Il-20 surveillance plane was mistakenly downed by Syria’s S-200 system last week.

In areas adjacent to Syria over the Mediterranean, Russia will carry out radio-electronic suppression of satellite navigation, airborne radars and communications systems of combat aircraft attempting to attack facilities on the Syrian territory, Shoigu said.

The Russian Defence Ministry has said that the Il-20 plane with 15 servicemen on board was shot down by mistake on September 17 by a Syrian missile due to a simultaneous Israeli air strike that confused Syria’s S-200 air defence system.

The Israeli military rejected the accusation that its jets deliberately used the Il-20 as a shield and led to its downing.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow’s decision to strengthen Syria’s air defence was made after week-long discussions between the leadership of the country and military experts.

He said that the deployment of the S-300 system in Syria does not target a third country.

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Abbas says to address UN assembly on issues causing suffering to Palestinians

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Mahmoud Abbas

Ramallah, Sep 16 : Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that he will address the upcoming UN General Assembly on issues causing suffering to Palestinians.

Abbas made the remarks during a meeting he chaired for Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Xinhua reported.

“We will go to the United Nations to confront the world with the issues that our people are suffering,” said Abbas, who is scheduled to deliver a speech at the UN headquarters in New York on September 27.

The addressed issues include the Israeli decision to demolish Al-Khan Al-Ahmar Bedouin village east of Jerusalem, and the status of Al-Aqsa Mosque in the holy city, he added.

“We are consulting with our brothers in Jordan to form a unified position to go to the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice on what is going on at the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Abbas noted.

The Palestinian President said the final decision will be made by the PLO central council after he returned from the UN assembly.

The United States and the Palestinians have almost severed ties since US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6, 2017.

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Iran to increase uranium enrichment if EU fails

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Iran President

Tehran, Sep 16 (IANS) Iran would increase uranium enrichment if the European Union (EU) fails to implement its obligations following the US withdrawal from the Iranian landmark nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday.

“The Europeans and the other signatories must act in order to compensate for the effects of the US sanctions,” Zarif was quoted as saying by Press TV.

He downplayed the possibility of Iran’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, but cautioned the EU partners that Iran might act if they fail to secure Iran’s interests in the deal.

“Oil and banks” are the “litmus test,” he said, alluding to the EU pledges to help Tehran in the face of US re-imposition of sanctions on Iran’s oil exports and banking transactions.

European parties need to decide whether being ready to follow their words, Zarif said, adding that “they should also decide if they want to submit to US pressure.”

Iran and six world powers, namely Russia, Britain, China, France, the United States and Germany, struck a landmark agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme in 2015, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

However, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw Washington from the deal on May 8 and re-impose sanctions, including oil embargo, on Iran.

Iran has held several rounds of talks with France, Britain and Germany to revive the blocking statute, a 1996 regulation that prohibits EU companies and courts from complying with foreign sanctions laws.

Iran has incessantly urged Europe to take “practical and tangible measures” to protect Iranian interests since the US pullout.

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