The remarks by State Department spokesperson John Kirby that the world may soon see Russian troops going home in “body bags” has prompted a rejoinder from his counterpart in Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.
“Don’t you think that such ventriloquism about ‘body bags,’ terrorist attacks in Russian cities’ and ‘loss of aircraft’ sounds more like a ‘get’em’ command, rather than a diplomatic comment?” Zakharova asked in a Facebook post.
As reported yesterday, Kirby’s remarks, including his prediction that “Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags,” sounded like a veiled threat.
“Extremist groups will continue to exploit the vacuums that are there in Syria to expand their operations, which will include attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities. Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags, and they will continue to lose resources, even perhaps more aircraft,” said the State Department official.
He added that if the war continues “more Russian lives will be lost, more Russian aircraft will be shot down.”
The fact that the “extremist groups” spoken of by Kirby are being supported in large measure by the US obviously is not lost upon Zakharova.
“And those [acts of terrorism] will be perpetrated by ‘moderate’ [Syrian opposition groups]?” Zakharova inquired. “Just the ones that Washington has been unable to separate from Al-Nusra for as long as six months?”
“[What about] Terrorist attacks in France,” she went on, “America and other countries; the beheadings of people of all nationalities by Islamic State militants in Syria – is this all kind of a different paradigm? Perhaps another ‘parallel reality?’”
In case you missed it, Secretary of State John Kerry, in an acrimonious exchange at the UN last week, suggested Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is living in a “parallel universe.” What the US State Department is doing publicly is engaging in childish finger pointing: “It’s all your fault!” they are essentially saying.
What they are doing privately, behind the scenes, is providing support for terrorist outfits such as Nour al-Din al-Zenki, which beheaded a 12-year-old boy back in July. Why they continue to do this, even as increasing numbers of people are beginning to see through the charade, is a mystery, though perhaps it’s a sign of desperation.
Another Russian official who has responded to Kirby’s undiplomatic remarks is Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov.
“Once again we declare that we are fully prepared to continue the dialogue with the American side and carry on with the joint actions to combat terrorists in Syria,” he said. “However, even the slightest hints of a threat to our soldiers and Russian citizens must be excluded from this dialogue. The matter of safety of Russian citizens, wherever they may be, is not up for bargaining. It is our main and unconditional priority.”
Kirby says the State Department is considering non-diplomatic options, and there are indications it has already found them. In what may be the first step toward partitioning eastern Syria, the US coalition carried out airstrikes yesterday that destroyed two bridges over the Euphrates River, bridges that large segments of the population depend upon for transportation. The following is from Press TV:
Syria has slammed the US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh for destroying two bridges over Euphrates River in the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, where the same alliance recently killed 83 Syrian soldiers.
The attacks “confirm the so-called international coalition’s intent to bomb and destroy Syrian infrastructure and economic and social establishments through repeated aggressive acts,” state TV quoted the Syrian Foreign Ministry as saying Thursday.
The official SANA news agency reported that the bridges of al-Asharah and al-Mayadin in the eastern countryside of the provincial capital city of Dayr al-Zawr were hit by the coalition’s warplanes on Wednesday.
Syria’s ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja’afari said the bridges had been used by hundreds of thousands of civilians in the area.
Meanwhile, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based rights group advocating militants in Syria, said the two bridges are now unusable, a situation which would impede aid deliveries and hamper movement of civilians.
It may well be that the US is now opting for a different game plan–that of leaving Assad in power in Damascus while imposing what in effect could be a partitioning off of eastern Syria. This would still achieve the aim of balkanizing the country as well as make it possible to route a pipeline through Syrian territory for purpose of transporting natural gas from Qatar to Turkey and then into the EU. The question, of course, is whether Russia would allow it to happen.
If Syrians are not willing to see their country split apart, and if Russia and Iran continue to support them–with maybe China actively joining the alliance as well–we could be looking at World War III.