13 Mar 2018 15:18

U.S. to put itself on par with int'l terrorists if it strikes Damascus - Slutsky

MOSCOW. March 13 (Interfax) - State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Leonid Slutsky said he hopes the United States will abstain from provocations and strikes on Damascus, as that would compromise the U.S. itself.

"Hopefully, the Pentagon and the U.S. president have enough common sense not to strike administrative buildings in Damascus. They will be unable to destroy President al-Assad and his entourage, who are fully aware of possible U.S. actions of the kind," Slutsky told Interfax on Tuesday.

Otherwise, Washington would be putting itself in opposition to the international community or even "on a par with international terrorist forces, no more and no less," he said.

If Washington dares to take this step, this would clearly demonstrate a hostile attitude toward Syria, Slutsky said. "Also, that would be further proof that, in spite of the rhetoric of Donald Trump, this and previous administrations of the United States are fighting the al-Assad regime, rather than international terrorism and ISIL [banned in Russia] in Syria," Slutsky said.

Washington is continuing its fight against "unwelcome regimes" and trying to "wipe them off the face of the earth," Slutsky said. He mentioned the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, and other countries in whose internal affairs Washington interfered directly by means of military force under far-fetched pretexts.

"As for chemical weapons which Damascus allegedly wanted to use, it has long been known that al-Assad has no such weapons, and their destruction has been confirmed and acknowledged by international experts [...] The U.S.' stance and style never change," he said.

"We know that if there are any chemical weapons in Idlib, they are possessed by those who, unfortunately, are still in control of this land: terrorist groups, which have nothing to do with the authorities in Damascus," he said.

The Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Gen. of the Army Valery Gerasimov, said earlier on Tuesday that the Pentagon was preparing to strike administrative districts of Damascus in response to a possible chemical weapons provocation.