MOSCOW (Dispatches) -- Russia said on Tuesday it had information that the United States planned to bomb the government quarter in Damascus on an invented pretext, and said it would respond militarily if it felt Russian lives were threatened by such an attack.
Valery Gerasimov, head of Russia’s General Staff, said Moscow had information that terrorists in the enclave of eastern Ghouta were planning to fake a chemical weapons attack against civilians and blame it on the Syrian army.
He said the United States intended to use the fake attack as a pretext to bomb the government quarter in nearby Damascus where he said Russian military advisers, Russian military police and Russian ceasefire monitors were based.
"In the event of a threat to the lives of our servicemen, Russia’s armed forces will take retaliatory measures against the missiles and launchers used,” Gerasimov said in a statement.
Russia has previously accused terrorists in Syria of preparing to use toxic agents in eastern Ghouta so they could later accuse Damascus of employing chemical weapons.
Damascus denies Western allegations that government forces have used chemical weapons.
Russia’s warning came a day after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned that Washington "remains prepared to act if we must,” if the UN Security Council failed to act on Syria, as the Syrian army’s onslaught in eastern Ghouta against terrorists continued unabated.
According to Gerasimov, militants have brought a crowd of civilians, including women and children, into eastern Ghouta from other regions to represent them as victims of the planned chemical attack, while film and satellite video transmitters are already in place.
"This has been confirmed by the discovery of a laboratory for the production of chemical weapons in the village of Aftris, which was liberated from terrorists," he said.
The general added, however, that "despite constant attempts by militants to disrupt peace initiatives in eastern Ghouta, the situation in the suburb of Damascus shows a trend toward stabilization.”
On Monday, Syria’s envoy to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari slammed new U.S. military threats, saying Haley’s comments weare aimed at provoking a chemical attack by terrorists and fabricating evidence against Damascus.
For the past several years, the flashpoint enclave has been under the control of multiple foreign-backed terror groups, particularly the so-called Jaish al-Islam outfit and the Nusra Front, which have practically captivated the civilians and use them as human shield against the government’s liberating forces.
Syrian troops have launched a full-scale offensive to crush the terror outfits, which constantly launch mortar attacks against residential neighborhoods in and around Damascus, killing and wounding dozens of people.
Russia and Syria have set up safe corridors for civilians to leave eastern Ghouta, but militants holed up in the region have been shelling the safe routes to block the evacuation process.
Earlier Tuesday, Syrian state TV showed a group of civilians, including sick and injured people leaving militant-held areas in eastern Ghouta into the government-held territory.
Yasser Delwan with the Jaish al-Islam militant group also said a group of patients had left under a deal for a medical evacuation with Russia through the United Nations.