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Russia’s two fingers to Trump: As Americans warn Syrian president Assad is plotting new chemical attack, Putin’s forces invite beaming dictator to visit their air base.
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad grinned as he was shown around a Russian airbase in his wartorn country – shortly after US authorities warned he is planning another attack on his people.
Assad was greeted by officials at Russia’s Hmeimim air base in western Syria, and was pictured climbing into the cockpit of a fighter jet.
It happened on a day when the Pentagon said it detected ‘active preparations’ by Syria for a chemical weapons attack, giving weight to a White House statement hours earlier that the Syrian government would ‘pay a heavy price’ if it carried out such an attack.
Syrian media has published pictures of Assad inspecting the base, and inside a Russian SU-35 plane.
He was accompanied by the Russian Army’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, at the site near the coastal city of Latakia.
The U.S. accusation and ominous warning marked a further escalation of tensions in a country where the U.S. is using Syrian Arab and Kurdish proxy soldiers to combat the Islamic State group in its remaining strongholds, even as Russia and Iran work to prop up President Bashar Assad, who has gained the upper hand in a long civil war.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said the U.S. had seen ‘activity’ at Shayrat airfield that ‘indicated active preparations for chemical weapons use.’ That is the same base from which the Syria air force launched an attack in April that the U.S. and others said used lethal chemicals to kill civilians. Syria denied the charge.
The White House said that the impending attack will likely harm ‘innocent children and civilians’.
‘The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children. The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.
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