USA officials say Russian inaction enabled Syria chemical attack

Cheryl Sanders
April 11, 2017

"Congratulations to our great military men and women for representing the United States, and the world, so well in the Syria attack", Trump posted on Twitter.

In a secure room at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, U.S. President Donald Trump's top military advisers presented him with three options for punishing Syrian President Bashar Assad for a poison gas attack that killed dozens of civilians. And the United States could push Russian Federation and Iran and the Syrian government to challenge them to begin a negotiation that, at some point - and this could take months or even years - end this awful war.

And a joint operations centre in Damascus that includes Iran, Russia and Lebanon-based Hezbollah militants threatened reprisals.

The American strikes "aim at slowing the victories of the Syrian army and its allies, and reinforcing terrorist groups", they said in a statement. "President Trump evaluated the facts, that the attacks occurred on his watch, and [as he] reflected upon prior responses or lack of responses, he came to the conclusion that we can not yet again turn away, turn a blind eye from what's happened". "These hawkish actions and increased military presence will give the USA a stronger say at the negotiation table and increase her chances to impose a more conciliatory position for Assad". No one can enter government-held territory without its consent, and trying to destroy suspected stockpiles with airstrikes could disperse the chemical agents, with potentially catastrophic consequences. She, like the war-hawks, wanted to overthrow Assad and the Syrian government; she even recently voiced support for bombing the airfields in Syria.

Tillerson stopped short of accusing the Russians of complicity.

The secretary of state stopped short of accusing the Russians of complicity in the attack, but said that "they've been incompetent and perhaps they've just simply been out-maneuvered by the Syrians".

"Absolutely they are complicit", said Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

In The Sunday Times, Sir Michael said Russian Federation needed to take action to make sure the "needless suffering" of Syrian civilians can be brought to an end.

However, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, refused to discuss any next steps - military or diplomatic - as the world struggled to understand Trump's policy on the civil war. "Russian Federation is supposed to have removed all the chemical weapons from Syria, but obviously that has not happened", said Haley.

Iran is one of the biggest supporters of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Iran, which has also intervened in the conflict on the side of the Assad regime, backed Russian Federation in condemning the attack, with the Iranian foreign minister accusing the United States of peddling "bogus chemical weapons allegations". It has organized several Shiite militias from around the Middle East to fight in support of Assad's government and has sent troops and officers from its own Revolutionary Guards.

During the session, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley defended the US's action and said it is prepared to do more.

Haley said "getting Assad out is not the only priority" and that countering Iran's influence in Syria was another.

But Haley suggested there has been a shift in United States thinking. "In no way do we see peace in that area with Assad as the head of the Syrian government".

Administration officials insisted Friday that their overall policy hadn't changed and that the strike was only meant to convey that chemical weapons are unacceptable.

Once the threat from Islamic State has been reduced or eliminated, "I think we can turn our attention directly to stabilizing the situation in Syria", Tillerson said in excerpts from an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation", that will air in full on Sunday.

The United States is leading a coalition of countries that conducts airstrikes targeting ISIS in Syria.

"It's very hard to understand how a political solution could result from the continuation from the Assad regime", McMaster said on "Fox News Sunday".

Other reports by iNewsToday