Washington had notified Moscow prior to staging massive missile strikes against Syria, the American Ambassador to Russia has said, clarifying that the US-led attack was not intended as “a conflict between superpowers.”
“Before we took the action, the United States communicated with the Russian Federation to reduce the danger of any Russian or civilian casualties,” said Jon Huntsman in a video posted to the official Facebook page for the US Embassy in Moscow, further insisting that “all the targets” in the US-led attack were “linked” to what he alleged as Syria’s “illegal chemical weapons program.”
This is while Syria surrendered its entire stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the US and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry. Damascus has consistently denied using chemical weapons over the past years in the foreign-sponsored conflict in the Arab country while no verifiable evidence has ever been produced to the contrary.
“This is not about a conflict between superpowers, but about the principle that the use of chemical weapons is simply unacceptable,” Huntsman added as quoted in a report by the Washington-based The Hill news outlet.
The US diplomat further cited a “large amount of credible reporting” to falsely blame Damascus for the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma, vowing that “we would still welcome cooperation with Russia that will do the right thing and joint the rest of the world in condemning the Assad regime for its horrific actions and ensuring they cannot happen again.”
This is while Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia called on Washington and its allies earlier in the week to drop plans for potential military intervention in Syria, warning that he “cannot exclude” the possibility of direct military confrontation between Moscow and Washington in case the Arab country comes under attack.
Speaking after a closed-door UN Security Council meeting over US President Donald Trump’s threats of an imminent military action against Syria, Nebenzia told reporters on Thursday that the presence of Russian troops in the war-torn country had made the situation even more dangerous.
“The immediate priority is to avert the danger of war,” Nebenzia said. “We hope there will be no point of no return.”
Asked whether by that he meant a war between Russia and the US, the Russian envoy said, “We cannot exclude any possibilities, unfortunately, because we saw messages that are coming from Washington. They were very bellicose.”
The remarks by the Russian diplomat came after Trump waned Russia on Wednesday to “get ready” to shoot down American missiles over Syria soon.
Meanwhile, the US-led strike on Syria came shortly before the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) mission was expected to begin its work in the town of Douma. Both Syria and Russia welcomed the OPCW fact-finding mission to determine whether any chemical incident took place.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also stated on Saturday that the so-called proofs offered by Western countries of a purported use of chemical weapons by Damascus are “ludicrous” for experts.
The Russian top diplomat made the remarks at the 26th session of the Assembly of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy in capital Moscow, adding that Washington, London and Paris told Moscow that there are purported “irrefutable facts” as for the suspected chemical attack so that they can justify the strikes that they had delivered earlier in the day.
However, “nothing more is given, except mentioning media outlets, social networks and the video, which is quite ludicrous for specialists,” Lavrov added, while denouncing the actions by the US and its allies in Syria as “unacceptable and illegitimate.”
Moscow has repeatedly stated that the chemical attack in Douma was staged by desperate Western-backed terrorists to provoke further intervention in the conflict by the West, namely the US-led military coalition that has been conducting airstrikes against purported terrorists’ targets across Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.