There is “lots of evidence” that chemical weapons are being prepared by Syrian government forces in Idlib in northwest Syria, the new US adviser for Syria said on Thursday, as he warned of the risks of an offensive on the country’s last big rebel enclave.
“I am very sure that we have very, very good grounds to be making these warnings,” said Jim Jeffrey, who was named on Aug. 17 as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s special adviser on Syria overseeing talks on a political transition in that country.
The United States has told Syrian rebel factions they should not expect military support to help resist a Russian-backed government offensive to regain opposition-held parts of Syria bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
A copy of a message sent by Washington to heads of Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups, which was seen by Reuters, said the US government wanted to make clear that “you should not base your decisions on the assumption or expectation of a military intervention by us”.
BEIRUT — A Syrian state-run newspaper said Monday that the government will keep fighting “terrorists” despite U.S. warnings against a new offensive against rebels in southern Dara’a province, while Russia said Syrian troops should deploy in the country’s southwest, near Israel.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Syrian troops should be positioned on the border with the Golan Heights, which have been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Mideast war. The area between Dara’a and the Golan Heights has emerged as a flashpoint in a wider standoff between Israel and Iran, and the United States has warned it will take action to protect a cease-fire there.
The Al-Baath daily said in an editorial published Monday that the U.S. threat underscores the “dirty American role in the terrorist war” against Syria. It stressed that the Syrian army was determined to retake all parts of Syria
Following Saturday’s airstrikes on targets in Syria by the US, the UK and France, the White House said late on Sunday that the US strategy in Syria had not changed and that it wants US troops home “as soon as possible,” according to Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
The comments came just hours after French President Emmanuel Macron — who has been vocal in pushing for constructive relations between western Europe and Trump — said in a major interview on French television that he had convinced his US counterpart to stay in Syria “longterm.”
Last Sunday, President Trump tweeted, “Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay.” Actually, there wasn’t. The western airstrikes on Syria were carefully circumscribed, avoided Russian assets and troops, and did little, if anything, to disturb Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. The strikes, which were apparently supposed to persuade Assad to focus on killing the opposition to him with conventional weapons, did not display western strength but caution.
American, British and French forces launched airstrikes on two chemical weapons facilities and a military command post in Syria on Friday night in retaliation for a chemical attack that left up 75 civilians dead last week.
Donald Trump addressed the U.S. while British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron both gave speeches justifying the use of force.
Allies hit three facilities to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities
‘CRIMES OF A MONSTER:’ Trump Strikes Assad For Chemical Weapons Attack
Pentagon says Syria strikes are ‘one time shot’ to send strong message to Assad
Syria ‘chemical attack’ staged to provoke US airstrike, London pushed perpetrators – Russian MoD
The Russian Defense Ministry has presented what it says is proof that the reported chemical weapons attack in Syria was staged. It also accused the British government of pressuring the perpetrators to speed up the “provocation.”
During a briefing on Friday, the ministry showed interviews with two people, who, it said, are medical professionals working in the only hospital operating in Douma, a town near the Syrian capital, Damascus.
President Trump warned Russia Wednesday that missiles are heading to Syria after the country vowed to shoot them all down.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” Mr. Trump tweeted.
His tweet was in response to the Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin who said late Tuesday that any U.S. missiles in Syria will be shot down, but added that negotiations were still an option.
WASHINGTON — The Russian military has been jamming some U.S. military drones operating in the skies over Syria, seriously affecting American military operations, according to four U.S. officials.
The Russians began jamming some smaller U.S. drones several weeks ago, the officials said, after a series of suspected chemical weapons attacks on civilians in rebel-held eastern Ghouta. The Russian military was concerned the U.S. military would retaliate for the attacks and began jamming the GPS systems of drones operating in the area, the officials explained.
WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump froze more than $200 million in funds for recovery efforts in Syria as his administration reassesses Washington’s broader role in the protracted conflict there.
The White House ordered the State Department to put the spending on hold, U.S. officials said, a decision in line with Mr. Trump’s declaration on Thursday that America would exit Syria and “let the other people take care of it now.”
The Russian mercenaries fighting in Syria say they are not in the country for the money or to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“[Syrians] can’t stand Assad,” one Russian mercenary commander told RFE/RL. “Really. Only a tiny percentage of the population there supports him and the rest oppose him. Only [Russian President Vladimir] Putin supports him. Russia supports him — no one else.”
There is a bigger motivation, the mercenary claimed. “If you are fighting under a Russian flag, with a Russian weapon, even if you are eating moldy food and are 10,000 kilometers from home, you are nonetheless fighting for Russia,” he said.