Russia strongly warns US against striking Syrian army
AFP photoThe Russian military on Oct. 6 strongly warned the United States against striking the Syrian army, noting that its air defense weapons in Syria stand ready to fend off any attack.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said any U.S. strikes on areas controlled by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government could jeopardize the lives of Russian servicemen.
He said Moscow was worried by media reports alleging that Washington was pondering the possibility of striking Syrian army positions.
“I would recommend our colleagues in Washington to carefully weigh possible consequences of the fulfillment of such plans,” Konashenkov said.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said “We’re looking at the full range of options here and those comments notwithstanding, we still have a responsibility as a government to consider all those options.”
“I don’t find them [comments like the warning] helpful to moving forward, to reach some sort of diplomatic solution here. But the Russians should speak for themselves and why they’re saying that kind of thing,” he said.
Russia responded with dismay to the U.S.-led coalition’s air raid on Syrian army positions near Deir el-Zour that killed 60 Syrian soldiers on Sept. 17, rejecting the U.S. explanation that the attack was a mistake.
Konashenkov said “we have taken all the necessary measures to prevent any such ‘mistakes’ with regard to Russian servicemen and military facilities in Syria.”
On Oct. 7, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Russia and Syria should face a war crimes investigation for their attacks on Syrian civilians. Kerry said Syrian forces struck another hospital overnight, killing 20 people and wounding 100.
On the same day, Russia’s lower house of parliament ratified a treaty with Syria that allows the Russian military to stay indefinitely in the Mideast country.
The Kremlin-controlled State Duma voted unanimously Oct. 7 to ratify the deal, which formalizes Russia’s military presence at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia.
Russian warship “Mirage” on Oct. 7 passed through Istanbul’s Bosphorus strait, heading to the Mediterranean to back up Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria, AFP journalists reported.
The corvette, which left Russia’s Sevastopol base in Crimea on Oct. 6, is on a mission is to protect other navy ships from other ships or submarines.
Russian marines soldiers were seen on the vessel loaded with cruise missile launchers as well as artillery, AFP journalists reported.
This comes a few days after Russian warships Zeleny Dol and Serpukhov traversed the Dardanelles to reach the Mediterranean.