Russia accused United States of trying to derail Syria peace initiative

Vastavam web: Russia today accused the United States of promoting unverified reports about chemical weapons attacks in Syria in order to cloud Moscow’s latest peace initiative, while the Syrian government dismissed the reports as “lies.” The United States and 28 other countries are launching a new plan to better identify and punish anyone who uses chemical weapons, amid new reports of a suspected gas attack in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus earlier this week.Russia is hosting peace talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi next week that some Syrian opposition figures said will run counter to UN peace initiatives.

Ryabkov’s remarks came a day after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Moscow “ultimately bears responsibility for the victims” of the latest suspected chemical attack.The US and Russia reached an agreement in 2013 to remove all chemical weapons from Syria, but there have been several reported chemical attacks since then, including one last year that led President Donald Trump to order a retaliatory missile attack on a Syrian air base.The planned talks in Sochi could also be overshadowed by the heavy fighting in northwestern Syria, where Turkish troops and allied Syrian forces are battling a Kurdish militia.He renewed a threat to extend the offensive east to the city of Manbij, which is also under the control of US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters.

He said he plans to “foil games along our borders starting from Manbij,” adding that “we will clean our region from this trouble completely.” Erdogan said that Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters have killed at least 268 Syrian Kurdish fighters since the operation was launched on Jan. 20. He said Turkish troops have suffered seven or eight losses.At least 27 civilians, including eight children and four women, have been killed in the fighting in Afrin, mainly in Turkish airstrikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that monitors the civil war.The US has urged Turkey, a NATO ally, to exercise restraint. American troops are based in Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria but not in or near Afrin.