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US buildup in Eastern Euphrates aimed at partitioning Syria: Lavrov

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)
The file photo shows US troops in an unspecified location in northern Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says US military buildup in the eastern side of the Euphrates River threatens Syria's unity as it is actually aimed at partitioning the country.

Lavrov said the US claims that it is seeking to rid Syria of terrorists, but in fact it is actively settling on the Eastern Euphrates in a bid to disintegrate Syria.

“This approach is also encouraged by a number of US allies,’’ he said in an interview with Italy’s Panorama magazine published on Thursday.

The top Russian diplomat also said that the suspected chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb town of Douma on April 7 was a "new dirty provocation made by those who do not want peace in Syria."

One week after the incident, the US, Britain and France launched a coordinated missile attack against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s capability to produce chemicals.

Syria has rejected the accusations of possessing chemicals. It surrendered its chemical stockpile in 2013 to a mission led by the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN.

Lavrov said Russia expects OPCW experts to conduct an independent investigation into the Douma incident and invites specialists from the US and France to join the probe.

He further described as “absurd” US accusations that Moscow and Damascus have delayed the entry of the OPCW experts to Douma in order to cleanse the site of the alleged gas attack.

When the OPCW team was ready to depart for the Syrian capital and then for Douma, "an act of aggression was conducted against Syria, a sovereign state and a UN member," he said.

"Any specialist may confirm that it would be impossible to destroy traces of a chemical attack amid destroyed infrastructure, as agents penetrate deeply into soil and walls," he added.

US training militants in Syria's al-Tanf

Separately on Thursday during a press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, Lavrov accused the US of training anti-Damascus militants near its military base in the town of al-Tanf in Syria's Homs Province.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (R) welcomes his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Amman on September 11, 2017.

"And in this area, where Americans have unilaterally declared their territory around the al-Tanf and the Rukban refugee camps, very strange things are happening, including the training of militants, which is being conducted in order for them to continue fighting despite the ceasefire agreements," he said.

Lavrov also complained that the US did not provide safety assurances to allow humanitarian access to the Rukban camps.

“The Americans for a long time have been refusing access to humanitarian aid convoys, claiming that the Syrian government would not give its permission. That is not true,” he said.

Safadi, for his part, underlined the need for a solution to the Syria crisis.

"We must work together to avert any further deterioration," he said. "We believe that there is no solution without Russia, and there is no solution without Russian-American-Arabic-international dialogue."


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