13:29 GMT +3 hours27 November 2014
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Russia: Syria Rebels’ Airport Threat ‘Unacceptable’

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Russia said on Monday it would work with other countries to ensure that the rebel Free Syria Army stops making “unacceptable” threats, following the announcement on Friday that the FSA now views Syria’s two biggest civil airports as “military targets,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said on its website.

Russia said on Monday it would work with other countries to ensure that the rebel Free Syria Army stops making “unacceptable” threats, following the announcement on Friday that the FSA now views Syria’s two biggest civil airports as “military targets,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said on its website.

“These kinds of threats are absolutely unacceptable,” the Foreign Ministry commentary said.

“They are a gross violation of international law, first and foremost the Chicago Convention of 1944 governing international civil aviation,” it said, and called on countries that have influence with the FSA to put an end to the threats.

The FSA earlier warned airlines to suspend service to Damascus and Aleppo, saying rebel forces could begin attacking airports in the two cities as early as Tuesday, the London-based daily Asharq Alawsat reported on Friday, citing the FSA's high command.

“The civil airports of Damascus and Aleppo may become targets of FSA attacks beginning on Tuesday next week, since they are being used by the criminal regime for military aviation to carry out strikes against Syrian rebels,” the report said.

The Syrian air force was forced to begin using civil airports due to a string of successful rebel attacks on military bases, including one on an airfield near Idlib that destroyed 10 military planes, it said.

But the Russian Foreign Ministry said the rebels are approaching a “red line, beyond which lie actions that in no way differ from the crimes of Al-Qaeda.”

Full responsibility for such “terror attacks” would be borne by the FSA and “its enablers,” the commentary said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov wrote on his Twitter account on Saturday that the FSA’s threat was the product of “irresponsible” deliveries of portable surface-to-air missiles to rebel forces.

Simultaneously with the threat of attacks on civil airports, the Foreign Ministry advised Russians not to travel to Syria and advised Russians already in Syria to find the safest available routes out of the country.