Russian Army General Valery Gerasimov threatened to retaliate if United States President Donald Trump pushes through with a planned attack that could endanger its military forces assigned to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s fight versus rebels and jihadis in areas bordering Damascus.
Gerasimov believes the U.S. would launch an attack in response to an alleged chemical weapon attack launched by Syria. Russia has consistently denied that Syria has the capabilities of launching chemical warfare:
“In the event of a threat to our military servicemen’s lives, Russia’s Armed Forces will take retaliatory measures to target both the missiles and their delivery vehicles.”
Nikki Haley who is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has frequently called attention to the Syrian government’s attempts to reclaim the districts of Ghouta which is located outside Damascus. Ghouta is held by the insurgents and has seen a rise in the number of casualties due to continued attacks by Russian and Iranian forces.
Russia which is a fellow permanent member of the U.N. Security Council has frequently vetoed resolutions condemning Assad’s government and has maintained that insurgents are constantly bombing areas near Damascus. Haley accused Russia of violating a 30 – day ceasefire agreement that was entered by all involved parties early in March:
“When the international community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action. We warn any nation determined to impose its will through chemical attacks and inhuman suffering, but most especially the outlaw Syrian regime, the United States remains prepared to act if we must. It is not a path we prefer. But it is a path we have demonstrated we will take, and we are prepared to take again.”
Russia responded to Haley’s statement by pledging a forceful retaliation versus the U.S. military if Russian troop stationed near Damascus are attacked. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov referred to Haley as “belligerent” and that consequences of retaliation should be taken seriously:
“If a new strike of this kind takes place, the consequences will be very serious. Mrs. Haley should understand that it is one thing to irresponsibly exploit the microphone at the U.N. Security Council and it is another thing when both the Russian and American militaries have communication channels and it is clearly stated via these channels what can be done and what must not be done.”
U.S. Coalition spokesman Colonel Thomas Veale said that their main focus was to fight ISIS but they shared Haley’s concern on the use of chemical weapons in Syria:
“Coalition officials regularly engage their Russian counterparts via established ground and air deconfliction lines, with the goal of ensuring mutual understanding and preventing escalations in tensions.
“Our interactions with Russian officials have been professional and effective, proving the value of the deconfliction effort. Although the Coalition does not speak for the United States, we acknowledge the U.S. government’s stance, echoed by our Coalition and NATO partners that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable.”