Moscow calls on West to ‘seriously consider’ consequences of Syria threats

Syrian Army soldiers stand next to buses that carry rebels and their families who left Douma, at the entrance of the Wafideen camp in Damascus, Syria, ON April 12, 2018. (Reuters)

Moscow on Thursday called on the West to “seriously consider’ the consequences of threats against Syria after the US and France said they would respond to an alleged chemical attack.

“We call upon... members of the international community to seriously consider the possible consequences of such accusations, threats and especially action (against Syria),” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

“Nobody has authorized Western leaders to take on the role of global police -- simultaneously investigator, prosecution, judge and executor,” she said during a press briefing.

“Our position is perfectly clear and defined. We are not seeking escalation.”

Fears of confrontation between Russia and the West have been running high since US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that missiles “will be coming” after the suspected chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7, and lambasted Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!” the US president said in his latest early morning tweet on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump had earlier warned regime-backer Russia that “missiles will be coming’ to Syria over the alleged attack in Douma that rescuers said killed 40 people.

But on Thursday morning he wrote on Twitter: “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”

US Defense Secretary James Mattis, said on Thursdasy that Moscow is complicit in keeping chemical weapons in Syria.

Mattis also promised communication to the US congressional leadership prior to any attack on Syria.

The US military was ready to provide military options, if appropriate, he added. It was unclear if his remarks reflected unease about Trump’s apparent move toward military action.

Two US government sources told Reuters the United States still did not have 100 percent solid evidence of what nerve agent was used in Syria and where it came from. However, there is some evidence it was sprayed from helicopters, they said.

In Moscow, the head of a Russian parliamentary defence committee, Vladimir Shamanov, said Russia was in direct contact with the US Joint Chiefs of Staff about the situation.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said pro-government forces were emptying main airports and military air bases. The Syrian military has also been repositioning some air assets to avoid possible missile strikes, US officials told Reuters. 

France says it has ‘proof’ 

France's Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday he had “proof” that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons, and would respond to it “in due course.”

President Emmanuel Macron says France has proof that the Syrian government launched chlorine gas attacks.

Macron said Thursday that France would not tolerate “regimes that think everything is permitted.”

Speaking on TF1 television, Macron said “we have proof that chemical weapons were used, at least chlorine” in recent days by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

He did not say whether France is planning military action against Assad's government. Macron said he has been talking regularly this week with US President Donald Trump about the most effective response.

With increasing concerns about a US-Russia proxy war in Syria, Macron insisted that “France will not allow an escalation or something that could damage the stability” of the region. On Tuesday, Macron said any French action would target Syria's chemical weapons abilities.

Syrian opposition activists and medics say a suspected gas attack last week in Douma killed more than 40 people. The Syrian government has denied the allegations.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was due to hold an emergency cabinet meeting amid speculation she will support US action against the Syrian regime.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany will not join any military strikes against Syria in response to a suspected poison gas attack on an opposition enclave, but supports Western efforts to show the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable.

“Germany will not take part in possible - there have not been any decisions yet, I want to stress that - military action,” Merkel said after meeting Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen in Berlin.

“But we support everything that is being done to show that the use of chemical weapons is not acceptable,” she added.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53
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