Moscow: Amid the ongoing international row over Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday made a provocative allegation that the United States is preparing to launch fresh missile strikes targeting Syria.
US President Donald Trump recently ordered a missile strike on a Syrian airbase allegedly used to carry out a gas attack. Putin on Tuesday also seemed to suggest that there are plans to fake a chemical attack in Syrian capital of Damascus.
The fake gas attack, Putin indicated, would be used to discredit Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime. Putin’s comments came during a joint address with the visiting Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Moscow.
President Putin was responding to a question about whether he believed the US military under President Donald Trump would launch another strike against Syrian targets.
“We have information from a variety of sources that such provocations (I cannot find another word for this) are being prepared in other parts of Syria, including in southern suburbs of Damascus, where they are planning to plant certain substances and accuse Syrian authorities of using them,” Putin said, according to a copy of statement published on the official Kremlin website. Putin, however, did not elaborate on the source of his information.
Putin, who has strongly condemned the US strike of the Syrian airbase, said Russia plans to ask the international chemical weapons watchdog — the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons — to launch a probe into the strike.
His comments came just hours before top US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Moscow. The top US diplomat’s visit to Russia is the first under President Donald Trump and Tillerson arrived in Moscow carrying a message from world powers denouncing Russia’s support for Assad.
The provocative statement comes against the backdrop of the recent United States missile strike on a Syrian airbase. The strike, US President Donald Trump said, was in direct response to this month’s Syrian chemical gas attack, in which scores of civilians, including children, died.
The West blamed President Bashar al-Assad of orchestrating the gas attack, a charged denied by the Syrian regime. Russia, a long-time ally of Assad, has backed the Syrian regime, calling the allegations untrue.
In his comments on Tuesday, President Putin compared the accusations against Assad to the 2003 alleged discovery of chemical weapons in Iraq.
Putin said the accusations remind him “very much of the events of 2003, when US representatives in the (United Nations) Security Council showed alleged chemical weapons discovered in Iraq.”
“A military campaign in Iraq ensued, which ended with the destruction of the country, an increased terrorist threat and the emergence of ISIS on the international scene – no more, no less,” he said.
“The exact same thing is happening now, and their partners are nodding approvingly. In this connection, our remarkable writers, Ilf and Petrov, come to mind, with their famous line, “It’s boring, ladies.” We have seen this all before,” the Russian president added.