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Russia: Syrian government has 'every right' to defend own citizens against terrorists

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia addresses the UN Security Council on Syria during a meeting of the Council at the UN headquarters in New York, US, on March 12, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

Russia says the Syrian government has “every right” to defend its own citizens against terrorists, who are wreaking havoc in the Arab country.

During a Monday meeting of the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Damascus has “every right to try and remove the threat to the safety of its citizens”, describing the militant-held Eastern Ghouta, near the capital, as a “hotbed of terrorism.”

For the past several years, the flashpoint enclave, home to some 400,000 people, has been under the control of multiple foreign-backed terror groups, particularly the so-called Jaish al-Islam Takfiri outfit and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, which have practically captivated the civilians and use them as human shield against the government’s liberating forces.

The Syrian army troops, backed by pro-government forces, 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.

Furthermore, the Ghouta-based militants are trying to prevent civilians from leaving the enclave as they constantly target the safe passages of al-Wafideen and Jisreen with shells and explosive bullets, killing a number of people so far.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley addresses the UN Security Council on Syria during a meeting of the Council at the UN headquarters in New York, US, on March 12, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

Earlier on Monday, US Ambassador Nikki Haley presented a new draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta, claiming that the previous UN truce resolution, unanimously passed by the council on February 24, “has failed” as Damascus, backed by Russia, stepped up its offensive in the enclave.

“We have drafted a new ceasefire resolution that provides no room for evasion,” Haley further said, warning that Washington was “prepared to act if we must” against “any nation that is determined to impose its will through chemical attacks and inhuman suffering, most especially the outlaw Syrian regime.”

The US and its western and regional allies have often pointed their fingers at the Syrian government for chemical attacks, which Damascus has consistently denied.

The Russian envoy, however, strongly rejected Haley’s accusation regarding the chemical attack, saying Nusra Front terrorists were the real perpetrator behind the attack in eastern Ghouta.

“This was done in order to prepare the ground for unilateral military actions against sovereign Syria,” Nebenzya said, referring to the attempts to put the blame on the Syrian government for the chemical weapons use in the Arab country.

Following the alleged use of chemical weapons in the enclave in January, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson claimed that the Syrian government could be using chemical weapons, accusing Moscow of being responsible for the victims because of its military engagement in Syria.

The Russian Foreign Ministry at the time said Washington was spreading mass propaganda against the Kremlin in a bid to demonize the Syrian government and subsequently topple it, underscoring that the information on the chemical attacks used by the US was uncorroborated.

The Syrian government has time and again stated that it had completely destroyed its chemical weapons stockpiles, which was confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Last week, Syria’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Hussam Aala, told the UN Human Rights Council on that military operations in Eastern Ghouta targeted “terrorist organizations in accordance with international humanitarian law.” He added that the Ghouta-based terrorists “continue to indiscriminately shell” the capital.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

According to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, around 511,000 people have been killed in Syria since the onset of the foreign-backed militancy some seven years ago. It added in its Monday’s report that it had succeeded in identifying only more than 350,000 of those killed.

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