ASTANA, March 16. /TASS/. Any use of force against Damascus based on far-fetched pretexts and groundless accusations is unacceptable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a ministerial meeting of the guarantor countries of the Syrian ceasefire (Russia, Iran and Turkey) in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana on Friday.
"We reiterate that any use of force against Damascus based on far-fetched pretexts is unacceptable," he said.
"The United States’ recent threats to carry out unilateral attacks on Syria and Damascus in particular, like it happened last April after the Syrian government had faced groundless accusations of using chemical weapons, are unacceptable and inadmissible," the Russian top diplomat pointed out. "We have made it clear for the United States through diplomatic and military channels," he 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. "When the international community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action," she said. Chief of Russia’s General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov later stated that militants were plotting to stage a provocation involving chemical agents in Syria to justify a large-scale US strike against Damascus. According to Gerasimov, the Russian Defense Ministry is ready to take retaliatory measures against the US possible attack on Damascus in case Russian military servicemen in the Syrian capital were put in danger.
Attack on Shayrat airbase
On April 7, 2017, US President Donald Trump ordered a strike on Syria’s Shayrat military air base located in the Homs Governorate. The attack, involving 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, came as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Idlib Governorate on April 4. The Pentagon said that the airstrike on Idlib had been launched from the Shayrat air base.
Russia strongly opposed the US missile strike. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Syrian air force had targeted warehouses where militants were producing munitions filled with poisonous substances that had been used in Aleppo and had been also delivered to Iraq.
Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow considered the attack to be an act of aggression against a sovereign state. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in turn, said that the aggression was carried out under a false pretext.