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US strike worsens prospects for Geneva talks – Assad's adviser
The prospects for the negotiations in Geneva have worsened dramatically after the US strike, political adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Bouthaina Shaaban, told a news conference on Friday.
"What kind of opposition can support strikes against their home country? That's an important issue itself," she said commenting on the support of the so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC) for the US strike on Syria's military airfield overnight to April 7.
"The US strike is a very serious move, it will significantly complicate the prospects for the Geneva talks," Shaaban said in response to a question from a TASS correspondent concerning the prospects for the intra-Syrian talks. "If the US aggression continues, it will complicate our stance, the more so since terrorists and their patrons do not want a ssettlement," she added.
The United States is not preparing new strikes against Syria, according to Russia's data, Shaaban said.
"Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov does not confirm such a probability (of new US strikes - TASS)," she said. "We cooperate with our friends and allies and are trying to strengthen our armed forces to counter such attempts."
Chemical weapons accusations
Accusations against the Syrian government that it used chemical weapons against unarmed people sound totally illogical, she went on.
"It is known that chemical weapons were removed from Syria back in 2013, and the OPCW confirmed that these weapons had been taken out (of the country)," she emphasized.
"But even if we assume that these weapons fell into the hands of the Syrian army, why using it against unarmed people, children and elderly persons? That's totally illogical!" Shaaban said.
"Then came a strike on al-Shayrat airfield, with the US dropping dozens of missiles on it," she went on to say. "There was neither gas nor chemical weapons there, but the American version was immediately picked up by the media, and now something that has never taken place is presented as real facts."
"The western strategy aims at creating a new state between Syria and Iraq which means Syria will have to be divided," she said. "But there is a United Nations Security Council Resolution confirming the need to preserve Syria's territorial integrity based on single citizenship for all its residents regardless of their religion and ethnicity," Shaaban pointed out.
"Not all the Kurds seek autonomy," she noted. "In many areas of Syria, various ethnic and religious groups live side by side, if they all demand independence, the country will collapse."
At the same time, the Syrian presidential adviser stressed that the country's authorities were determined to keep the country united. "We have been maintaining dialogue with a part of the Kurds residing in the country's eastern areas," Shaaban said.
The incident in the city of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria's Idlib province where chemical weapons were allegedly used occurred on April 4. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Syrian air force had delivered an airstrike on the eastern outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun to destroy militant facilities used to produce chemical bombs. These bombs were sent to Iraq and were also used in Aleppo. Washington accused Damascus of using chemical weapons, after which the US carried out a missile strike on Syria's military airfield in the Homs province.
[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 14Apr17]
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