Anti-Assad Claims a ‘Perfect Pretext for US to Become More Involved in Syria’
The Trump administration appears to be using the alleged chemical weapons attack, which the US and its allies have blamed on the Assad government, to boost its military presence in Syria, Paul Antonopoulos, deputy editor of al-Masdar News, told Radio Sputnik.
“Realistically from Donald Trump’s rhetoric we know that he must have had Syria always in his sights. Before the election he was focusing on [Daesh]. However, his bringing up chemical weapons attacks that occurred in 2013 and were mostly debunked shows that he always had Syria in his sights and that these latest allegations against the Syrian government are just a perfect pretext for the United States to become involved again or attempt to be involved in the Syrian War,” he said.
These comments came after a toxic agent claimed nearly 80 lives and left 200 injured in the town of Khan Shaykhun located in the rebel-held province of Idlib. Opponents of President Bashar al-Assad have claimed that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) had used chemical weapons against civilians intentionally, something Syrian authorities strongly deny. No evidence has been provided to support these claims.
“I think the most logical explanation is that the Syrian Air Force struck a chemical weapons depot that was held by terrorist forces,” the analyst noted.
This version corresponds with the explanation provided by the Russian Defense Ministry, which said that the Syrian Arab Air Force carried out an airstrike targeting a large militant ammunition depot and military hardware in the eastern part of the town. A lab, used to produce chemical weapons, was also located in the affected area.
Antonopoulos pointed out that it does not make sense for Assad to order a chemical weapons attack at a time when Damascus-led forces are on a roll across the country.
The Syrian Arab Army “is very stable across all fronts. They are slowly progressing against [Daesh] and other militant factions in Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor and Homs. So things are looking very positive at the moment,” he said. “What necessity is there for chemical weapons to be used at this stage of the conflict when everything is looking so positive towards government forces? I know it’s a very simple explanation, but I cannot understand how people simply overlook this. Why would a government be in such a favorable position and then jeopardize that by something as stupid as using chemical weapons when it’s completely unnecessary?”Antonopoulos further mentioned that Damascus agreed to eliminate its stockpile of chemical weapons under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States in 2013.
“Another important factor is that Syria has removed the vast majority of its chemical weapons under inspection. It was all under inspection,” he emphasized.