The Pentagon announced that Syria has Chemical Weapons ready to deploy against opponents of the Bashar al-Assad regime. President Donald Trump says the Syrian government will “pay a heavy price” if it launches a chemical attack. Russia denies any such weapons exist in the region, labeling the U.S. statements as “provocation.” If you didn’t notice by the bombing and downing of planes, the U.S. is already at war with Syria– but the stage is being for a much bigger international conflict.
The White House, on Monday night, released the following statement:
The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.
The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack. As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. If, however, Mr Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.
But the warning isn’t really for Syria– and it doesn’t really have anything to do with chemical weapons.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday told reporters “the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”
Russian officials have similarly claimed, and sought to demonstrate, that their reason for being involved in the region is similar. Many of the rebel fighters working to topple the Assad regime are loosely tied to ISIS and its sympathizers. A 2015 report from the UK Centre on Religion and Geopolitics relayed that 60 percent of rebel fighters in Syria identify with the extremist ideology that drives ISIS. Part of the Russian plan to push back against ISIS involves helping Assad retain power over the country.
The U.S. policy toward Syria since the Obama administration– which many Americans expected to change under Trump– lends itself to more of a clean slate approach. Topple the regime and install a new “friendly” government.
Still, U.S. officials maintain that the Pentagon isn’t in the business of getting involved in other nations’ civil wars.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recently told reporters: “We just refuse to get drawn into a fight there in the Syria civil war, we try to end that one through diplomatic engagement. If somebody comes after us, bombs us or takes a heading on us or fires on us, then under legitimate self-defense we’ll do whatever we have to do to stop it.”
But the officials comments don’t match up to the U.S.’s recent military actions in Syria– chiefly the downing of a Syrian warplane because it was flying too close to “friendly” rebels in the region.
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