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Lavrov certain Washington eyeing long-term, even permanent foothold in Syria

Russia uses all channels to warn US against attacking Damascus, top diplomat noted

MOSCOW, March 14. /TASS/. Russia has no reasons to doubt Washington’s pursuit for a firm foothold in Syria for the long term, if not perpetually, and to press for dismembering that Arab republic, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Chavusoglu in Moscow on Wednesday.

"Today, we discussed many aspects of the topic of Syria, including the United States’ actions, particularly on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River and in eastern Syria, where the Americans have been indeed setting up military bases. I am sure that there is no reason to doubt that at least some people in the US ruling elite seek to ensure their presence there for the long term, if not perpetually, and to contribute to the collapse of the Syrian state," the Russian top diplomat pointed out, adding that "various methods have been put to use to achieve this goal."

"Yesterday, our Foreign and Defense Ministries publicly announced that preparations are being made for new provocations involving chemical weapons, in particular, such incidents are planned to be staged in Eastern Ghouta in order to attract the global community’s attention. As always, they will be wailing about civilian suffering and civilian victims, and the US-led coalition may use it as a pretext to use force, particularly attacking the Syrian capital," Lavrov said.

Moscow has used all conduits to firmly warn Washington against attacking Damascus, Lavrov added.

"Yesterday, we sternly warned the United States through all channels. I hope that these irresponsible plans won’t be implemented," he added. "But in any case, these tactics show that the United States still seeks to create pretexts for ousting the regime. They [the Americans] have been saying for a reason that all the options are still on the table," the Russian foreign minister noted.

According to Lavrov, such a step would be "a violation of all international laws, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 and Washington’s promises to refrain from undermining Syria’s territorial integrity." "They will have to prove it with actions rather than with words. But too many of their actions don’t follow their rhetoric," Lavrov added.

At the March 12 meeting of the UN Security Council, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Hailey said that Washington was ready to attack Syria once again in case the United Nations proved unable to ensure the ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta. On Tuesday, Chief of Russia’s General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov stated that the Russian Defense Ministry would be ready to take retaliatory measures against a possible US attack on Damascus if Russian military servicemen in the Syrian capital were put in danger.