Syria and Russia warn the US

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

SYRIA and Russia have warned of the grave consequences that would follow any attempt by US imperialism to launch air-strikes against the Syrian army or impose a unilateral “no-fly” zone over Syrian territory. But the Russian Defence Ministry has warned the Americans that none of their war-planes would be immune from the recently deployed S-300 and S-400 air-defence batteries in Syria.

The Americans and their toadying French and British allies have resumed their bleating about alleged Syrian army atrocities whilst trying to revive the drive for direct intervention by claiming that the Russian bombing of the terrorist enclave in Aleppo is a war-crime — a claim robustly rejected by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, who said on Russian television that: “If it comes to war crimes, US officials must begin with Iraq. And then go to Libya. Be sure to go to Yemen — find out what’s there.”

Now the imperialists are repeating the lie that the Russians were responsible for the destruction of a United Nations (UN) aid convoy bound for Aleppo last month. But this was again dismissed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said that the Pentagon has known who really did carry out the atrocity from the start because an American drone was monitoring the convoy.

The attack left 18 lorries ablaze and 20 civilians dead. The imperialists blamed the Russian air-force. Putin says it was actually carried out by one of the Americans’ terrorist allies operating in the area.

“It was one of the terrorist groups,” the Russian leader said. “And we know that, say, the Americans know it too, but prefer to take a different position, to falsely accuse Russia. This is not helping,” Putin said at an economic forum in Moscow this week.

The Syrian army will use all of its military means to repel US aggression, an unnamed source in the Syrian Defence Ministry told RIA Novosti. “The Syrian army will not hesitate to defend its land, country and the government. It will use all its military capabilities to repel US airstrikes or any other US attempts to commit aggression against Syria,” the source said. “But we also believe that the US will think twice before conducting any strike against Syria, given current Russian presence in Syria and Russian—Syrian military cooperation.”

Meanwhile Russian President Vladimir Putin has called off a summit meeting in Paris following French calls for Russia to be charged with “war-crimes” over the bombing in Aleppo. The Kremlin cancelled the talks that would have begun next week after French President François Hollande declared that Syria would be the only item on the agenda and called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Russia for potential war crimes in Aleppo.

On the front-line, Syrian troops and the people’s militias are continuing to advance against the terror gangs in Aleppo and the rest of the country. Last week Syrian President Bashar al-Assad repeated a pledge of safe passage to the rebels holed up in Aleppo, reinforced by an offer by UN Syrian Envoy Staffan de Mistura to act as a “human shield” for any rebels that want to leave the city. Some of the smaller rebel gangs have seized the moment to start talks with the Syrian army for safe passage out. But the largest sectarian militias that are funded and armed by US-led imperialism and the feudal Arab oil princes in Aleppo are still holding out, hoping for direct imperialist intervention to save their skins. Others have shown more sense.

Over 200 rebels and their families have been evacuated from al-Hamah and Qudsiyah in the Damascus countryside this week, and the Syrian army has resumed control of the area. Over 600 rebel militiamen had already handed over their heavy weapons and military equipment to the Syrian army. Some 400 accepted a government pardon and the others opted to leave the area under safe-conduct.