Threat of US-Russia clash hangs over Syria

Dominique Dufresne
Avril 14, 2018

The sabre-rattling over an alleged chemical attack in Douma, outside Damascus, reached a new peak this week as US President Donald Trump warned of striking Syria with "smart" missiles and Russia vowed to shoot them out of the sky.

The White House said Thursday that Trump met with his national security team to discuss Syria but "no final decision has been made" despite the president's tweet the previous day warning Russia to "get ready" for missiles headed to Syria, its ally. According to the White House, Trump plans to consult further with U.S. allies.

She further slammed Russia for not stopping the Syrian regime.

At the United Nations meanwhile, diplomats were mulling a draft resolution put forward by Sweden and obtained by AFP, that would dispatch a "high-level disarmament mission" to rid the country of chemical weapons "once and for all". "Only now and after seven years of destruction, the U.S. and the world remembered it was time to punish Assad?"

The Blessing of the Fleet, in which decorated local fishing vessels parade about the harbor and receive a solemn blessing from local clergy, begins at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. A comprehensive Syria strategy, ideally one that's more than 280 characters, remains a key requirement to protect US interests in the Middle East. "We are obviously looking at that very closely".

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French President Emmanuelle Macron said he had "proof" that chlorine was used in Douma and that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack, which Syrian activists said killed over 40 people.

"Let us not forget that, ultimately, our efforts must be about ending the terrible suffering of the Syrian people", he urged the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain. Syria has denied any such attack even took place. The war also shattered the rest of the Syrian economy, with the IMF estimating that its dollar-denominated GDP had plunged 75 percent by the end of 2015. Saudi Arabia said it would support a military operation in Syria. A precise estimate is difficult to offer, but 80 percent or more of the oil seems to be in coalition-held areas, not to mention substantial amounts of gas.

Davis, who voted against military action against the Assad regime in 2013, added: "The situation in Syria is horrific - the use of chemical weapons is something the world has to prevent".

The statement made no direct reference to military action, but will be seen as a signal Britain would be prepared to join any US-led air strikes against the regime should the Americans decide to go ahead - putting it on a potential collision course with Assad's principal backer, Russia.

The latest development in Washington comes as British media report that UK Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet agreed "on the need to take action" in Syria.

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Hundreds of thousands of people have been slaughtered with conventional arms.

At the height of their power, Army of Islam militants had paraded prisoners captured from government areas in cages on pick-up trucks through the streets of Douma, including women, girls and members of Assad's Alawite minority. I think that's quite possible and that's what happened in Afghanistan and in Iraq in the past as well, so I don't think the Trump administration will withdraw the US troops from Syria.

"Unfortunately, because of Obama's ineptness, he helped create the vacuum that the Russians were able to move in on", said McInerney.

In April last year Trump ordered Tomahawk strikes on the Shayrat Airbase in response to a similar chemical weapons attack on rebel-held Khan Sheikhun.

"We hope that there will be no point of return - that the US and their allies will refrain from military action against a sovereign state", Nebenzia told reporters late on Thursday.

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