MOSCOW: Russia on Friday warned the United States against targeting Syria's chemical arsenal as Washington considered the use of force against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
"With particular concern we perceive the fact that military infrastructure facilities securing the integrity and safety of Syria's chemical arsenal are among the possible targets for military strikes," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
"In this respect we warn US authorities and their allies against striking any chemical facilities and adjacent territories," the statement said.
"Such actions would represent a dangerous new turn in the tragic development of the Syria crisis," the ministry said, warning that the strikes could prompt the release of highly toxic substances.
"Besides, one cannot rule out that militants and terrorists would gain access to chemical weapons or chemical warfare agents as a result of such a reckless move," the ministry said, expressing concern over the possible spread of chemical weapons further across Syria and beyond its borders.
"The US bombing of Iraq's Al Muthanna chemical storage facility led to a serious contamination of adjacent territory in 1991," the statement said.
"For peaceful residents of Syria and other countries of the region the consequences can be even more severe."
Russia's warning came as world leaders gathered at a summit in Saint Petersburg failed to bridge their divisions over US plans for military action against the Syrian regime in response to a suspected chemical attack on August 21 in the Damascus suburbs.
Russia earlier this week warned that any strikes could also hit a research reactor outside Damascus, dealing a blow to nuclear security.