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RUSSIAN chief-of-staff Valery Gerasimov warned Washington today that Moscow’s armed forces would respond if the US launches a missile strike on the Syrian capital Damascus.
General Gerasimov said in Moscow that Russia has “reliable information” that the US is preparing to “stage” a chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta and blame it on the Syrian government.
The US might then strike the Damascus government quarter in supposed retaliation, which Moscow would consider a threat to the lives of the Russian military deployed there and would respond, he declared.
Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia has accused jihadist groups in Eastern Ghouta of using chlorine gas, stressing that the Damascus government has every right to eradicate the “terrorism hotbed” near its capital.
“According to information at our disposal, on March 5, al-Nusra militants used a chorine substance in Eastern Ghouta that injured 30 civilians. All this is done to prepare the grounds for unilateral military actions against sovereign Syria,” Mr Nebenzia said.
“The suburbs of Damascus cannot remain a hotbed of terrorism and it is being used for continued attempts by terrorists to undermine the cessation of hostilities.”
The Russian ambassador insisted that terrorists, unlike Moscow and Damascus, frequently attack hospitals and other civilian facilities and the attacks are well-documented.
Since UN resolution 2401, which authorises continued military activity against jihadist groups, was passed, “more than 100 people died from this and a considerably higher number were wounded. More than one hospital … was shelled,” Mr Nebenzia insisted.
“These were true hospitals, genuine hospitals, not headquarters of fighters which they very frequently claim to be hospitals.”
The Syrian army claimed this afternoon to have uncovered a large storage facility containing chemical substances of Saudi origin in Eastern Ghouta, according to Al-Ikhbariya TV.
It said the chemical substances were found in the recently captured town of al-Shifouniyah, which was previously under the control of the Saudi-backed Jaysh al-Islam militants.
Ankara announced today that its troops and allied armed groups have begun a siege of the Kurdish-held Afrin city in northern Aleppo, from which thousands of civilians fled yesterday towards government-held areas.
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