MOSCOW, September 11. /TASS/. Washington’s threats to use force against Syria are part of its ongoing blackmail policy, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters on Tuesday.
"This is absolutely the policy of threats and blackmail," Ryabkov stressed.
The diplomat noted that the Trump administration earlier signaled that should any incident with the use of toxic agents or chlorine repeat, the United States would blame Damascus. "Then a massive strike will follow, and its scale will surpass the one the US carried out with its allies in the past," he said.
Ryabkov dismissed these statements as a cynical manipulation of facts and the real situation. Unlike the US, the UK and other their allies, Russia provides particular facts on a daily basis through the channels of the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and at platforms in New York, The Hague and Geneva, he noted.
"We particularly name geographical points where preparations are made to carry out provocations and certain terrorist groups backed by the US and its allies," Ryabkov said.
"Our military has been assessing the military situation on a round-the-clock basis, without any breaks," Ryabkov said. "Constant information exchange is going on with our colleagues from Turkey, as well as with Damascus. The secure channels we established with the US military in order to prevent incidents continue to operate. We cannot let Idlib remain a terrorist stronghold," Ryabkov added.
The Russian senior diplomat added that Damascus’ policy was aimed at resolving that task in a pinpoint way and reducing the harm to civilians.
Idlib is the only Syrian province still controlled by illegal armed groups. In 2017, a de-escalation zone was established in the region, where militants reluctant to lay down their arms can move together with their families. According to United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, Idlib currently hosts about 10,000 militants from the Jabhat al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda terror groups (both outlawed in Russia).
Washington says that the Syrian government forces may carry out a chemical weapons attack in Idlib and warned that such actions will have serious consequences. Moscow believes that these statements point to preparations for a new attack on Syria.
The Russian Defense Ministry said, in turn, that militants were making preparations together with British intelligence services to stage a chemical weapons attack in the Idlib province and blame it on the Syrian government.