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US wrestles with Russia over chemical weapons use

China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-13 08:03

For Washington, undermining Moscow role in Syria a main goal, experts say

The allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria seem like a front for settling scores between major powers and that was obvious in the recent tweets by US President Donald Trump against Russia.

In one of his posts on Wednesday, Trump said the relationship with Russia was at a historic low.

"Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War," he tweeted, a day after his country and Russia clashed diplomatically in the UN Security Council over the draft resolutions to deal with the allegations of chemical weapons use by Syrian forces.

Both powers vetoed each other's draft resolutions, with the Russians accusing the United States of prejudging the outcome of the investigation of the chemical weapons use in Douma, east of Damascus, while Washington said Moscow was trying to carry out the investigation their way.

But for many observers, the chemical weapons pretext is just a front behind which the US aims to target Russia's interests in Syria, particularly after the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance has almost won the war in Syria, while the US has been largely marginalized.

For the US, undermining the Russian role in Syria is the main goal, while for Israel, eliminating the Iranian role is the main goal, they said.

So the equation is Russia versus the US and Israel versus Iran.

Before his tweets on Wednesday, and while commenting on the chemical weapons allegations, Trump said: "If it's Russia, if it's Syria, if it's Iran, if it's all of them together, we'll figure it out," he said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin, "everybody's going to pay a price - he will, everybody will".

But the White House said no "final decision" has been made and all options were still on the table concerning Washington's response to the suspected chemical weapons attack.

After the US warmongering rhetoric against Syria and its allies, Russia warned the US of striking Syria.

Russia's envoy to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said his country has warned the US against striking Syria. "Russia has warned US representatives, publicly as well as through proper channels, over the grave consequences that could arise if these strikes happen and whether deliberately or otherwise Russian citizens are hurt," he said.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu official Twitter account reported that he spoke by telephone with Putin and reiterated that Israel will not allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria.

"I have a message to the rulers of Iran," Netanyahu said. "Do not put to the test Israel's resolve."

This came as Israel targeted the Syrian T-4 air base in Homs days ago, killing 14 soldiers including Iranian fighters amid Iranian warnings.

On Wednesday, Iran vowed to retaliate for the attack, while blaming Israel for the strike.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Wednesday that Israel's "crimes will not remain unanswered".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Thursday that China worries about the possible escalation of the situation in Syria and called for all parties to keep calm and ease tension.

Geng said China insists on peaceful settlement of disputes, opposes use of violence or threat of force in international relations, and advocates acting in line with the United Nations Charter.

He said China has been paying close attention to the latest developments in Syria and making contact with other members of the UN Security Council and regional countries, including the US and Russia.

He also said that the State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had exchanged views on this matter thoroughly with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Xinhua, Zhou Jin in Beijing contributed to this story.

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