News ID: 210376
Published: 0427 GMT February 21, 2018

Kremlin rejects US report blaming Russia for civilian deaths in Syria's East Ghouta

Kremlin rejects US report blaming Russia for civilian deaths in Syria's East Ghouta

Moscow has denied a US claim that Russian fighter jets carried out airstrikes in Syria's militant-held Eastern Ghouta and reportedly killed scores of civilians since the start of the week.

"These are groundless accusations. It is not clear what they are based on. No specific data has been given. We do not agree (with them)," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday in response to a US briefing blaming Russia for the attacks.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition monitoring group, claimed that at least 250 civilians had been killed in the attacks.

The Britain-based group also blamed Russian jets for the attacks.

Eastern Ghouta region, located near the capital Damascus, is included in a deal between Turkey, Russia and Iran to establish de-escalation zones in Syria with the aim of reducing violence in the war-torn Arab country.

Russia has been lending aerial support to Syria’s counter-terrorism operations since September 2015.

The US and its allies have been bombarding what they call Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The strikes, however, have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.

Russia’s defense sector not affected by US sanctions

Meanwhile, Moscow refuted a report by the US State Department that sanctions against Russia had cost the country $3 billion in lost defense contracts.

"I can just say that everything is fine, everything is fine," Peskov told reporters during a phone call on Wednesday.

He added that Moscow was "trying to hedge risks related to instances of unfair competition on the part of the United States in the market of military-technical cooperation."

On January 30, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said Washington sought to impose new sanctions on Russia “in the near future,” under a new law designed to punish Moscow for alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.

The announcement came after the US Treasury Department published a list of 114 senior Russian political figures and 96 "oligarchs" who Washington says have gained wealth or power through links with Putin.

Ties between Moscow and Washington soured after US officials accused Russia of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied the allegation.

Back in January, the US had expanded its sanctions against Russia, adding 21 people, including Russian Deputy Energy Minister Andrey Cherezov, and nine companies to the sanctions list because of what Washington called Moscow's continued interference in Ukraine.

The armed conflict in Ukraine broke out following the ouster of pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 and intensified after people in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted for reunification with the Russian Federation in a referendum held in March 2014.

The United States and its allies in Europe brand the reunification as annexation of the territory by Russia, accusing Moscow of having a major hand in the crisis in eastern Ukraine, an allegation strongly rejected by the Kremlin.

The Western countries have levied broad economic sanctions against Moscow over its alleged support for pro-Russia separatist forces in eastern Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

Russia and the US are also at odds over the Syrian crisis, as they are backing opposite sides in the conflict.

 

 

   
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