The Russian military reserves the right to shoot down missiles and destroy launch sites in the event of US aggression against Syria, Moscow's envoy to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin has warned.
Zasypkin stressed that “the Russian forces will confront any US aggression on Syria, by intercepting the missiles and striking their launch pads,” al-Manar TV website reported, citing the envoy.
Speaking to the channel, the ambassador also said that the allegations of a chemical attack were being used to justify “offensive acts” in Syria, while “the US and Western escalation against Syria will lead to a major crisis.”
The statement comes after Washington threatened a "forceful response" against Syria after an alleged chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma on Saturday. The US was quick to pin the blame on the Syrian government, basing its accusations on unverified data and images, including reports from the infamous, rebel-linked White Helmets ‘civil defense’ group.
As the initiative was voted down by the US, the UK, France and Poland; Russia's UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia once again called for the West to "refrain from the plans which you might be harboring with regards to Syria.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the OPCW announced that is preparing deploy its team to Douma “shortly” to investigate the reports of an attack there. Earlier, Russian specialists at the site had found no traces of chemical weapons or any victims treated for chemical poisoning.
While US President Donald Trump is weighing up options, reports emerged signaling that Washington is beefing up its forces in the Middle East. On Monday, the guided-missile destroyer ‘Donald Cook’ departed the port of Larnaca in Cyprus, reportedly heading towards Syria. Meanwhile on Wednesday, the USS ‘Harry S. Truman’ aircraft carrier, accompanied by strike groups, is scheduled to set sail for a “regular” mission to the Middle East and Europe.
Meanwhile, Eurocontrol – an EU body tasked with handling air traffic over the continent – issued a Rapid Alert Notification, warning flight operators in the Eastern Mediterranean about “the possible launch of airstrikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours.”