Syria has deployed anti-aircraft missiles and new air defense systems in the country’s Aleppo and Idlib provinces.
A Syrian government commander made the announcement on Monday, noting that “they cover the air space of the Syrian north.”
The northwestern province of Idlib, which borders Turkey and is largely under the control of al-Nusra Front militants, is one of the last main strongholds of Takfiri militants opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who have been driven from most of their bastions across Syria in recent years.
Adding that the defense systems were deployed on the frontlines in rural regions of the provinces, he added that they had been deployed as “message to everyone.”
The deployment comes at a time that Turkey has been launching airstrikes against the northwestern Syrian Kurdish region of Afrin, which is part of the Aleppo province.
Turkey launched the so-called Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s Afrin on January 20 in a bid to eliminate the YPG, which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Before Turkey launched operation Olive Branch, the government in Damascus had warned that it would shoot down any Turkish warplane that enters Syrian airspace.
Syria dismisses US chemical claims
Meanwhile, the acting charge d’affaires of Syria’s permanent delegation at the United Nations, Munzer Munzer, has rejected any claims of the use of chemical weapons or any other weapon of mass destruction.
While addressing a UNSC meeting on Monday, Munzer added that Damascus supports any action taken by the world body to probe such allegations.
“US claims are false and cheap and Syria is the first side which has an interest in finding truth and supporting any action taken by the UNSC if the intention is to reveal who is trading with the Syrian blood,” he added.
He also stressed that Washington resorts to such fabricated accusations whenever it realizes that the terrorist groups are being pushed back by Syrian government forces.
“Syria confirms that the US, Britain and France bear full responsibility for obstructing the investigation of the use of chemical weapons by covering the crimes of terrorists in Syria,” he said.
US, UK sabotaging chemical attack investigations in Syria
While addressing the UNSC meeting, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya said that the Syrian chemical dossier “is used by the United States and the United Kingdom to slander Russia.”
“It is absolutely clear for us why. The success of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi and prospects for giving an impetus to the political process in Syria seem to be a pain in the neck for someone. So, a strong slander attack on Russia is needed to try once again to call to question its role in political settlement,” Nebenzya added.
He noted that the US and UK envoys’ speeches, in which they claimed that Russia is trying to hamper the investigation into chemical attacks in Syria, “as always, contain a tiny piece of truth kneaded with lots of lies.”
Earlier, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Russia of obstructing the adoption of a UN Security Council condemnation of alleged chlorine gas attacks in Syria.
Haley told the Security Council on Monday that there was “obvious evidence from dozens of victims” to corroborate the chlorine attacks in Eastern Ghouta.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in early 2011, the Western governments have on several occasions accused Syria of using chemical weapons against militants. Damascus has denied the allegation, saying it is meant to pile more pressure on the government forces and delay their success in the fight against terrorists.
Last year, the US and allies in Europe said Syria and Russia, an ally of Damascus in the fight against terror, used chemical weapons against militants in Khan Sheikhun in the province of Idlib. Moscow swiftly rejected the allegations, saying its fighter jets had in fact bombarded a depot in the area in which the militants had stored chemicals.