Syrian air defense systems fully prepared ahead of possible US attack: Official
A Syrian military official says the country’s air defense forces have been placed on full alert amid reports that foreign-sponsored militants were planning to stage a fake chemical attack in Idlib in order to give the US a pretext for an airstrike against Syrian government forces.
Syria’s pro-government and Arabic-language al-Masdar news agency, citing an unnamed official at Mezzeh Military Airport, reported that troops stationed at the facility, which lies southwest of the old center of Damascus, had been ordered to prepare for a possible attack against the capital.
The report added that while the exact reason for this move remains unknown, it is believed to be linked to the potential threat of a US strike on Damascus or its outskirts.
The Syrian government has not commented on the report yet.
Meanwhile, Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad has underlined that government forces have never made use of chemical weapons in battles against foreign-backed terrorist groups.
“We have never used and will not use chemical weapons,” Haddad said in response to claims by anti-Syria opposition groups, including White Helmets, about chemical attacks carried out by the Syrian government forces against civilians.
“These allegations will get nowhere. They (opposition) have one pretext for everything — the use of chemical weapons. As soon as our army, thanks to the support of friendly countries, advances to liberate our lands, the West and the United States immediately want to intervene in order to attack Syria so as to weaken Syria and prolong the war,” Haddad commented.
Western governments and their allies have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack takes place.
Syria surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the US and the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.
It has also consistently denied using chemical weapons over the course of the foreign-backed militancy, which gripped the country in 2011.
Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Monday that the US is seeking to use fake chemical weapons attack to strike Syria.
Konashenkov added that the destroyer USS The Sullivans armed with 56 cruise missiles had arrived in the Persian Gulf several days ago, while a US В-1В bomber carrying 24 air-to-surface AGM-158 JASSM cruise missiles has been deployed at al-Udeid airbase in Qatar for this purpose.
Additionally, guided-missile destroyer USS Ross armed with 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles entered the Mediterranean on August 25, and the vessel is capable of hitting any target in Syria.
The US has warned it would respond to a chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces with retaliatory strikes, stressing that the attacks would be stronger than those conducted by American, British and French forces back in April.
Early on April 14, the US, Britain and France carried out a string of airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack against the city of Douma, located about 10 kilometers northeast of the capital Damascus.
Washington and its allies blamed Damascus for the Douma attack, an allegation rejected by the Syrian government.
Pentagon said in a statement that at least 58 missiles had struck Shayrat airbase in the western Syrian city of Homs. An unnamed US official said Tomahawk missiles were used in the strikes.
The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force said four Tornado GR4s fighter jets joined in the operation, while France said it had deployed Mirage and Rafale fighter jets.
Russian General Staff spokesman General Sergei Rudskoy, however, said Syrian air defense systems had intercepted at least 71 cruise missiles fired during the US-led aggression.