June 28, 2017 / 4:57 PM / a month ago

Russia says will respond 'with dignity' if U.S. mounts Syria strike

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Moscow, Russia June 20, 2017.Sergei Karpukhin

KRASNODAR, Russia (Reuters) - Russia will respond "in proportion" if the United States takes military action to prevent what it says could be a chemical attack by Syrian government forces, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

"We will react with dignity, in proportion to the real situation that may take place, Lavrov said.

Speaking at a news conference with his German counterpart, Lavrov said he hoped that the United States was not preparing to use its intelligence assessments about the Syrian government's intentions as a pretext to mount a "provocation" in Syria.

"I expect that our partners in the region - American, European - will also have an open and comprehensible approach, aimed at de-escalation through normalization of the humanitarian situation," Lavrov said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday the Syrian government appeared so far to have heeded a warning this week from Washington not to carry out a chemical weapons attack.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold in KRASNODAR, Russia; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Andrey Ostroukh

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