MOSCOW, March 20. /TASS/.Moscow calls on Washington to unconditionally abandon plans to attack Damascus, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters on Tuesday.
"We have been warning the United States about the need to abandon these plans unconditionally," he said.
"Any illegal use of force, like the air attack on the Shayrat air base about a year ago, would be an act of aggression against a sovereign state, in accordance with the United Nations Charter," the senior Russian diplomat pointed out.
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.
The Russian diplomat has also told TASS he doesn’t rule out further fake reports about Damascus’ using chemical weapons.
"Fake reports continued and may continue further on, especially taking into account Syrian government forces’ successes in exterminating terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta (Damascus’ neighborhood)," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabov said.
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.