Russia to Take Tit-for-Tat Steps Should US Strike Syria, Shamanov

MOSCOW- Russia will take all political, diplomatic and military retaliatory measures if necessary should the United States deliver a strike on Syria, Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Defense Committee Chairman and former Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Airborne Troops Vladimir Shamanov said on Tuesday.

"The politics of double standards have hit rock bottom. And here the United Russia party conscientiously states that all political, diplomatic and military measures if necessary will be taken. No illegal action will remain unanswered," Shamanov vowed at a plenary meeting of the State Duma, according to Itar Tass.

No Doubt, Douma 'Chemical Attack' Staged, OPCW Must Investigate on Ground in Syria: Nebenzia

NEW YORK- Russia is deeply concerned by the fact that some capitals, Washington as well as London and Paris, which are “blindly following” their US allies, have engaged “in a confrontational policy against Russia and Syria without any justification,” The Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said during an emergency UN Security Council meeting on security in the Middle East, in the wake of fabricated reports about an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma, according to RT.

Russia, US Urge Security Council Meeting after Alleged Chemical Attack in Syria

 The United Nations Security Council will hold a meeting on Monday at rival requests of Russia and the United States following an alleged chemical attack in Syria.

Russia called for a Security Council meeting on "international threats to peace and security," though the precise topic of discussion was not immediately clear, diplomats said on Sunday.

A minute later the US, France, Britain, Sweden, Poland, the Netherlands, Kuwait, Peru and Ivory Coast called on the 15-member council to hold a meeting to discuss last week’s alleged chemical attack in Syria.

According to diplomats, an agreement was reached late Sunday to meet once on Monday instead of twice.

The alleged chemical attack on Saturday in the militant-held town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta region left dozens dead and drew international condemnation from various countries and international bodies.

Damascus, in a statement released late on Saturday, strongly rejected the allegation of using chemical munitions and said that the so-called Jaish al-Islam Takfiri terrorist group, which has dominant presence in Douma, was repeating the accusations “in order to accuse the Syrian Arab army, in a blatant attempt to hinder the Army’s advance.”

Iran to Make Necessary Decision if others Change Stance on JCPOA

If other parties change their position regarding nuclear deal, Iran will take necessary decisions based on the principles of its foreign policy and will protect its interests, Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said.

'Iran is still complying with its commitments under the JCPOA,' Ali Akbar Salehi made the remarks Monday in a ceremony on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of Iran's National Nuclear Technology Day (April 9).

' It is by no means acceptable for us that the costs of JCPOA's implementation be paid only by one of its two sides and on the other side some countries wriggle out of their commitments,' he said.

'Despite the preciseness of the text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), some parties showed lack of commitment and as a result context of distrust still exists,' Salehi added.

Russian Defense Ministry Refutes Reports that Syrian Forces Use Chemical Weapons in Douma

MOSCOW- Russia’s Defense Ministry refuted reports on Sunday that the Syrian forces have used chemical weapons in Douma in Eastern Ghouta, Head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Sides in Syria Major General Yuri Yevtushenko said.

According to the general, the allegations that a chlorine barrel bomb had been dropped in Douma by the Syrian armed forces were the work of the so-called independent non-governmental organizations, including the White Helmets, which is widely known for its fake news, Itar Tass reported.

Brazil's Lula Complies With Federal Arrest Warrant, Stresses He Is Innocent

 Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has complied with the federal warrant demanding him be arrested in order to begin serving his 12-year sentence for "corruption" – a warrant both Lula and his lawyers insist is illegal, Telesur reported.

Shortly before 7 p.m. local time, Lula was seen leaving the steelworkers' union building in Sao Paulo in which he has been ensconced since Friday in a convoy of police vehicles. It is believed he is being transported to Congonhas Airport, from where he will be taken to a prison in southern Curitiba.

Earlier, Lula said he had been falsely accused of corruption but would comply with an arrest warrant and turn himself in to police.

Russia MoD Publishes Photos of Syria’s Raqqa, Destroyed by US-Led Coalition Bombings

MOSCOW- Russia’s Defense Ministry has published photos of the Syrian city of Raqqa, destroyed by the US-led coalition bombings, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

"The Russian Defense Ministry has published aerial photos showing the horrifying scale of the destruction of Raqqa by the US-led coalition bombings. Most residential dwellings, hospitals, mosques, schools and critical infrastructure facilities have been destroyed," the statement reads, according to Itar Tass.

Raqqa’s photos made in 2014 have also been presented to be compared to the recent ones showing only ruins.

Lavrov: Russia, US Can Do a Lot More for Settlement in Syria

MOSCOW- Russia and the United States can do much more to eradicate terrorism in Syria and achieve a political settlement in that country compared to what they are doing now, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday, according to Itar Tass.

"The so-called deconfliction has been established between the militaries, along with the dialogue to prevent unforeseen incidents, and that works," he said. "However, both Russia and the US could do a lot more to help solve the problem of the final eradication of terrorism in Syria, help solve the problem of meeting humanitarian needs of the entire Syrian people. Of course, [they] could do a lot to launch the political process without any preconditions, as required by the UN Security Council resolution," he said.