On August 22, at a press conference in Jerusalem, Bolton expressed “concern” that the Syrian leader will “kill his own people”. But the Russians believe that these so-called “concerns” are merely an excuse for another false flag attack to keep the northwestern province of Idlib in the hands of jihadists.
The Russian Defense Ministry stated earlier that the US-led coalition was already “building up a group of cruise missile carriers in the Middle East region,” in preparation for a possible strike, while French President Emmanuel Macron declared that France was also ready to launch new strikes against Syria.
The US military has been laying the groundwork to close the airspace over northern Syria, according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. US military freighters are reported to have transported radar systems to the city of Kobani, controlled by the Kurdish militia, and the US military base in Al-Shaddadah in southern al-Hasakah.
The outlet claims that the US plans to use these complexes to establish a no-fly zone over the territory between Manbij in Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor, and a final assault is believed to be imminent.
The Kremlin says that jihadists are actually planning a chemical weapons attack with the intent of blaming it on Syria’s legitimate government, and added that a British contractor was helping the jihadists.
Terrorists in Syria have been receiving weapons from the United States, with hundreds of tonnes of arms being supplied through the Jordanian ports, First Secretary of the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s International Relations Department Alaa Saeed Din Hamdan told Russian News service TASS on Tuesday.
Russia began war games with a large fleet this week in the Mediterranean, while issuing pre-emptive warnings that jihadists were preparing to gas themselves in a bid to spark international outrage, AFP reported.
The size of the naval force – more than a dozen vessels including destroyers, frigates and submarines, some armed with Kalibr cruise missiles, demonstrated that this deployment was mainly, “but not only for military drills”, Kerim Has, a Moscow-based analyst on Russian and Turkish affairs, pointed out.
According to Russia, Syria has the right to expel terrorists from Idlib Province, as these terrorists will remain the backbone of armed resistance against an elected government. As the Russian Navy masses in the Mediterranean near Syria, SAA forces are massed, in position and ready for the offensive.
The Russian Foreign Minister stressed earlier during his speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) that “there is no place for terrorists in Syria, and the Syrian government has every right to seek their liquidation on its territory”.
“We are now taking the most active effort, together with our Turkish colleagues, together with the Syrian government, and with the Iranians as participants in the Astana format, to split the armed normal opposition forces from the terrorists ‘on the ground,'” Lavrov said.
He has issued a strong warning to the US and its allies through the Russian defense ministry and foreign ministry “not to play with fire”. Sergei Lavrov spoke at a press conference alongside his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem.
Russia’s Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov has told US officials that Moscow was unhappy that the US was preparing for new strikes on Syria.
Turkey meanwhile has all but abandoned support for the al-Qaeda aligned Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former Jabhat Al-Nusra Front, and Iran has stated its total support for a Syrian government offensive to recover the province.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the Syrian government against re-taking its own territory. He Tweeted on Friday: “The three 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.”
But even if the jihadis launch such a provocation, the US Department of Defence cannot execute a strike without Presidential authorisation or a Congressional declaration of war, which is unlikely to happen. The decision to strike Syria is therefore solely in the hands of President Donald Trump.
Interestingly, instead of the “animal Assad” that Trump used in an earlier tweet, he now correctly addressed Syria’s president.
President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province. The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don’t let that happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2018
President Trump’s own Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett McGurk, last year noted: “Idlib province is the largest al-Qaeda safe-haven since 9/11, tied to directly to Ayman al Zawahiri, this is a huge problem.”
Some 30 bombing attacks have been flown by the Syrian and Russian air forces. The targets were depots and headquarters of the jihadists. The United Nations and aid groups have warned that a full assault on Idlib could spark a humanitarian catastrophe, but by removing their supplies, it has hastened the end of the fight, thereby preventing unnecessary civilian casualties.
The United Nations has misstated the number of inhabitants in the province. Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura and his Special Advisor, Jan Egeland, held a press conference, in which they claimed that there are 2.9 million civilians in the area.
That number makes little sense. In 2011 Idleb governorate had a population of 1.5 million, and several hundreds thousands had fled by 2015. They were replaced by tens of thousands of Chinese Uyghurs as well as other foreign Jihadis, not hundreds of thousands.
All the elite units of the Syrian Army, including the Tiger Forces, the 4th Mechanized Units and the Republican Guards will participate in the offensive. It is estimated that small pockets of ISIS in eastern Syria and Kurdish-held regions in eastern and northern Syria will remain however.
Former congressman Ron Paul warned the Trump administration to stop waging war on Syria. “Americans should be outraged that Pompeo and Bolton are defending al-Qaeda in Idlib. It’s time for the neocons to admit they lost. It is time to give Syria back to the Syrians. It is time to pull the US troops from Syria. It is time to just leave Syria alone!”