Duma defense chief says Russia may respond with military force to US strike on Syria

The head of the Duma defense committee and former commander of Russian airborne troops has said Moscow would take all measures, including military ones, in response to a possible US strike on government forces in Syria.

The double standard policy has overstepped all possible boundaries. At this point, the [pro-Putin parliamentary majority] United Russia party must responsibly state that we are going to take all political and diplomatic measures, and also military measures if such need arises,” Vladimir Shamanov said on Tuesday before the State Duma plenary session. “Not a single unlawful action will be left without response,” he added.

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The Russian general noted that Americans “should not pin hope on their Navy groups and on their fakes.” “We are a sovereign country, we have allies and guarantors of the events that are taking place in Syria,” he said.

Shamanov was reacting to a statement by Donald Trump when he met with senior military and security officials on Monday. The US president said that that a “major decision” on Syria would be made within 24 to 48 hours. “If its the Russians, if its Syria, if its Iran, if its all of them together, well figure it out,” Trump said. “We have a lot of options militarily, and well be letting you know pretty soon.”

The Syrian and Russian governments have denied any involvement in the alleged chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma. Syrian leader Bashar Assad said on Tuesday that his government had invited a mission from an international chemical weapons watchdog to Douma to investigate the alleged attack.

Russia proposed the creation of an independent investigative mechanism in relation to the incident, promising, along with the Syrian Army, to guarantee prompt access for experts to the area. Russia's envoy to the UN Vassily Nebenzia emphasized in his speech that Moscow is ready to serve as a guarantor of security for experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), who would inspect the site of the alleged attack.

Editors note: The headline for this story has been amended to better reflect the comments by Vladimir Shamanov.

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