Russian lawmakers dismiss U.S. warning of possible Syrian chemical attack as provocation

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-27 22:10:59|Editor: Zhou Xin
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MOSCOW, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Russian lawmakers on Tuesday dismissed the U.S. warning of a possible chemical attack by the regime of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad as a "provocation" aimed at justifying its own plan to strike the Syrian government forces.

Declaring the possibility of a new chemical attack in Syria, Washington may itself prepare a pre-emptive strike against government forces, said Konstantin Kosachov, head of the International Committee of the Russian Federation Council, the upper house of Russian parliament.

If the U.S. knows of an attack, it is not trying to "prevent it" but instead "shift the blame for it to the undesirable Syrian leader, which is a form of complicity in the crime," Kosachov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti news agency.

U.S. White House spokesman Sean Spicer issued a statement Monday night, warning that the United States had "identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians."

Leonid Slutsky, head of the International Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma, the lower house of the parliament, said Tuesday he was convinced that the U.S. accusations were "unsubstantiated and provocative".

"If in this case another chemical attack follows and Assad will be accused of this, then there will be air strikes of the U.S. Air Force against Assad's army targets, which is obviously the next stage of provocation," RIA Novosti quoted Slutsky as saying.

The Kremlin denied on Tuesday knowledge of any new threat of using chemical weapons.

"We don't know what it is based on ...there was no impartial international investigation into the previous tragedy that involved chemical agents; thus we do not consider it possible to lay the responsibility on the Syrian armed forces," TASS news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

"However, cases of the use of chemical agents by Islamic State terrorists and other criminal groups have been recorded earlier, so there is potential danger of the recurrence of such situations," he added.

After an April 4 deadly gas contamination in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria's Idlib province, which killed dozens of people, the United States launched a missile strike against a Syrian government airbase that allegedly was home to the warplanes that carried out the chemical attack.

In a phone conversation with U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Washington to take measures to prevent provocations against Syrian government troops conducting operations against terrorists, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement.