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Russia won’t allow US to threaten Syria

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says any threat from the United States to strike the Syrian capital, Damascus, is “unacceptable.”

Lavrov made the remarks in the Kazakh capital of Astana on Friday, where he and his Iranian and Turkish counterparts, Mohammad Javad Zarif and Mevlut Cavusoglu, have gathered to address the situation in Syria.

According to Moscow, the US plans a strike on the city using a chemical attack staged by militants in its suburb of Eastern Ghouta as a pretext. It has warned it would respond if Russian interests were targeted.

Syria surrendered its chemical stockpiles in 2014 under the supervision of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

On Monday, Russia said the Syrian military has found a workshop used by foreign-backed militants to make chemical weapons in a recently-liberated area in the Eastern Ghouta.

Ghouta evacuations

Lavrov further said that more than 12,000 people had left Eastern Ghouta on Thursday, and that the evacuation process continued.

Russia’s Interfax news agency cited the country’s Defense Ministry as saying that around 2,000 people left the area on Friday morning.

According to Russia’s RIA news agency, Russian military estimates that around 20,000 people may leave Eastern Ghouta by the end of Friday.

Russia has set up four humanitarian corridors to help evacuate the civilians from the countryside to contribute to the implementation of a UN Security Council resolution, which came into force last month mandating a ceasefire in the Arab country.

Lavrov said the Russian military and the Syrian government are extending the ceasefire in the suburb as long as it was necessary to allow all the civilians to leave.

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