In this file photo provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Russian S-400 long-range air defense missile systems are deployed at Hemeimim air base in Latakia, Syria. (Via AP)

A top Russian general says his country will respond to a US strike on Syria, targeting any missiles and launchers involved in such an attack, if the lives of Russian servicemen are threatened.

“There are many Russian advisers, representatives of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides and servicemen in Damascus and at Syrian defense facilities,” the RIA news agency quoted head of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov as saying.

The warning came a day after US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Washington was ready to unilaterally “act” against Syria, just as it did last year when it bombed a Syrian government air base over allegations of a chemical weapons attack.

 

He said “the US plans to accuse the Syrian government troops of using chemical weapons, and to provide the world community with the so-called evidence of the alleged mass death of civilians at the hands of the Syrian government” and “Russia supporting it.”

Washington, he said, plans to launch a missile attack on government-held districts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, adding that Moscow has “reliable information about militants preparing to falsify a government chemical attack against civilians.”

According to Gerasimov, the militants have brought a crowd of civilians, including women and children, into Eastern Ghouta from other regions to represent them as victims of the planned chemical attack, while film and satellite video transmitters are already in place.

“This has been confirmed by the discovery of a laboratory for the production of chemical weapons in the village of Aftris, which was liberated from terrorists,” Gerasimov said.

The general added, however, that “despite constant attempts by militants to disrupt peace initiatives in Eastern Ghouta, the situation in the suburb of Damascus shows a trend toward stabilization.”

On Monday, Syria’s envoy to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari also slammed the new US military threats, saying Haley’s comments are aimed at provoking a chemical attack by terrorists and fabricating evidence against Damascus.

 

For the past several years, the flashpoint enclave, home to some 400,000 people, has been under the control of multiple foreign-backed terror groups, particularly the so-called Jaish al-Islam Takfiri outfit and the al-Nusra Front, which have practically captivated the civilians and use them as human shield against the government’s liberating forces.

Syrian troops, backed by the Russian air force, have launched a full-scale offensive to crush the terror outfits, which constantly launch mortar attacks against residential neighborhoods in and around Damascus, killing and wounding dozens of people.

Civilian evacuations

Russia and Syria have set up safe corridors for civilians to leave Eastern Ghouta, but militants holed up in the region have been shelling the safe routes to block the evacuation process.

Earlier in the day, Syrian state TV showed a group of civilians, including sick and injured people leaving militant-held areas in Eastern Ghouta into government territory on Tuesday.

Yasser Delwan. with the Jaish al-Islam militant group, also said a group of patients had left under a deal for a medical evacuation with Russia through the United Nations.

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