Syria conflict: Bashar al-Assad govt warns of strong response in case of US attack

Damascus: The Syrian government on Monday warned that any new attack by Washington on the war-ravaged country would provoke an even stronger reaction by Damascus and its allies.

"We would not be surprised if the United States carried out new attacks against Syria," deputy foreign minister Faisal al-Moqdad told reporters in Damascus.

"But they should carefully consider the possible reactions, and should know that Syria's response, and that of its allies, will not be like the one after the first aggression."

The United States carried out its first direct military action against Syria in April, firing 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat military airport.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

It came in response to accusations the Syrian army used the base to unleash a chemical weapons attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhun in the country's northwest.

Last week, the White House said President Bashar al-Assad was potentially preparing a new chemical weapons attack.

Spokesperson Sean Spicer warned at the time that if "Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price".

And Pentagon chief Jim Mattis told reporters that it appeared the Assad government "took the warning seriously".

The April strike on Shayrat was fiercely condemned by Damascus and its allies, Russia and Iran, but there was no military response.

Speaking of that attack, Moqdad cast it aside as a show of force by US president Donald Trump, who had yet to complete his first 100 days in office at the time.

"I believe that the new American administration wanted the world to know that it is strong and can strike anywhere," Moqdad said.

"Of course, crazy men can strike anywhere."

Moqdad also rejected last week's report by the United Nations' chemical weapons watchdog, which concluded that the banned nerve agent sarin was used in the Khan Sheikhun attack.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found that "a large number of people, some of whom died, were exposed to sarin or a sarin-like substance."

It did not accuse the Syrian government of carrying out the attack.

"We said that we will not recognise the results of this investigation and we will not deal with it, because it has no transparency, credibility, or integrity," Moqdad said.

Russia's foreign ministry also said the findings "are still based on rather questionable data".


Published Date: Jul 03, 2017 10:27 pm | Updated Date: Jul 03, 2017 10:27 pm

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