National security adviser John Bolton reportedly warned his Russian counterpart on Thursday that the U.S. is prepared to retaliate against Syria with stronger military force than it has used in the past should Syrian President Bashar Assad use chemical weapons.
The United States has warned Damascus and Moscow that it views any military assault on Syria’s last rebel-held province in coming days as an escalation of the seven-year Syrian civil war.
The warning from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on August 31 came as rebels in Syria’s Idlib province bordering Turkey blew up bridges and dug trenches in preparation for an all-out government assault promised by the leaders of both Syria and Russia, which is providing air support for Syrian ground forces, RFERL News reports.
“The U.S sees this as an escalation of an already dangerous conflict, The 3 million Syrians, who have already been forced out of their homes and are now in Idlib, will suffer from this aggression. Not good. The world is watching.” ~ Pompeo
With a major battle over Idlib only days away, the U.S. State Department said on August 31 that it is sending the new U.S. special representative for Syria, James Jeffrey, to Israel, Jordan, and Turkey on his first official trip abroad from September 1 to 4.
The United States and President Trump are holding their military OPSEC extremely close, very little details are being released to the public at this time and that is exactly how it should be.
Jeffrey and his delegation will “underscore that the United States will respond to any chemical weapons attack perpetrated by the Syrian regime,” and will “address Russia’s specious allegations of international plans to stage a chemical weapons attack in Syria,” the department said.
The Russian Ministry of Defense issued a new warning Monday suggesting that the Pentagon was building up its naval capabilities in the Middle East in anticipation of a chemical weapons attacks that would be followed by U.S.-led missile strikes on pro-Syrian government forces preparing to storm the final rebel-held bastion of Idlib in northwestern Syria. The U.S. has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using internationally-restricted toxic gas assaults and committing other war crimes against opposition fighters and civilians.
“The United States keeps building up the cruise missile carriers group in the Middle East as part of preparations for another provocation in Idlib Province to be presented as an alleged use of chemical weapons. These preparations are fresh confirmation of U.S. intentions to use as a pretext a likely simulation of the government forces’ chemical attack, which Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants are plotting with active support from British secret services.” Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson General Igor Konashenkov
Russia has also threatened to take action to protect its forces in Syria. On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that its Black Sea Fleet’s Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Essen Kalibr cruise missile-armed vessels were making their way into the Mediterranean to “augment the Navy’s task force”
“The destroyer USS Sullivans of the US Navy arrived in the Persian Gulf with 56 cruise missiles on board. And at the Al-Udeid Air Bases in Qatar, the strategic bomber B-1B of the US Air Force was redeployed with 24 cruise JASSM air-to-surface missiles. Thus, the West is ready once again to support terrorists and, in violation of all norms of international law, to commit an act of aggression against a sovereign state, which will inevitably cause another sharp deterioration of the situation in the Middle East region and a breakdown in the process of a peaceful settlement of the Syrian conflict.” ~ The Russian Defense Ministry
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton warned Russian officials in Geneva Thursday that the U.S. had intelligence on a potential upcoming Syrian chemical attack and warned that the U.S. response would be stronger than ever, Bloomberg reported Friday citing people familiar with the talks. Following Tuesday’s joint U.S. Mission to the United Nations statement threatening further attacks on Syria in response to chemical warfare, Bolton also spoke of a potential Syrian chemical attack Wednesday, something he said he was “obviously concerned about” ahead of “plans for the Syrian regime to resume offensive military activities in Idlib province.”
“Just so there’s no confusion here, if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons we will respond very strongly. They really ought to think about this a long time before they come to any decision because there is no ambiguity in the U.S. position on this point.”
The latest exchange of warnings between Washington and Moscow comes as war monitors say thousands of Syrian government troops and allied fighters have been amassing in areas surrounding Idlib in preparation for an assault.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.