By Baran Hines
Russia’s Defense Ministry has warned the US-led coalition against carrying out airstrikes on Syrian army positions. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that “any missile or air strikes on the territory controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat to Russian servicemen,” during a press conference on Thursday.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson General Igor Konashenkov said that many members of the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria are working “on the ground” to deliver aid and “communicating with a large number of communities in Syria,” in his statement.
The statement was also a confirmation that Russia has S-400 and S-300 air-defense systems deployed to protect its troops and assets stationed at the Tartus naval base and their Khmeimim airbase. General Konashenkov said the radius of the weapons may be “a surprise” to unidentified flying objects. He also noted that the Syrian military has S-200 and BUK missile systems, which have been upgraded over the past year.
The Russian Defense Ministry’s statement came in response to what it called “leaks” in the Western media hinting that the United States is considering launching airstrikes against Syrian government forces.
“Of particular concern is information that the initiators of such provocations are representatives of the CIA and the Pentagon, who in September reported to the [US] President on the alleged controllability of ‘opposition’ fighters, but today are lobbying for ‘kinetic’ scenarios in Syria,” Konashenkov said.
Konashenkov then cautioned US officials to conduct a “thorough calculation of the possible consequences of such plans,” as the American strikes would likely lead to a serious response by Russia.
The Russian statement is the latest escalation in a series of warnings by each side. United States Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley warned on Wednesday that the United States was ready to “destroy” its enemies, saying “we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before,” in comments that many people interpret to be directed at Russia.
The planned ceasefire to end the Syrian proxy war collapsed on Monday when the US State Department announced it was ending bilateral talks with Russian officials. US officials say they will still negotiate with Russia in international forums on the Syrian war.
The ceasefire agreed to on September 9 required a 7-day period of reduced violence before the US and Russia would begin military cooperation and intelligence sharing to target the Islamic State and the Al Nusra Front, which is recognized as the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate.
It was claimed that Syrian moderate opposition groups violated the ceasefire immediately and consistently while US officials maintain that the Syrian government and Russian military support were the primary cause of the failed ceasefire. US-led coalition jets bombed positions of the Syrian government forces fighting the Islamic State on September 17, killing 83 troops and wounding more than 100 other people. US defense officials say the airstrike was a mistake; however, Syrian officials claimed the incident was a “blatant aggression” as the attack lasted almost one hour.