Though many NATO allies of the U.S. have steered clear of participation in possible military strikes against Syria, the U.S. is building a case against the Assad regime.
As the Obama administration released an unclassified intelligence report on the issue, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday there is clear and compelling evidence that the government of President Bashar Assad used poison gas against its citizens. Pentagon officials have moved warships and other military assets closer to Syria in preparation for a possible attack, which would most likely involve the use of cruise missiles.
Meanwhile, at least 10 countries from the western military alliance have refused involvement in any form of military operations in Syria. Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency is reporting that Austria and Spain have stressed that no military action should be taken before UN inspectors, who are winding up their mission to establish whether chemical weapons were used on the outskirts of Damascus, present their report.
Syria has rejected the charge, saying it has been a victim of a “false flag” attack that was deliberately carried out by the opposition, but for which the government of President Assad would be blamed. Syrian Deputy Foreign Faysal Mekdad has stressed that the U.S. and its allies did not have any proof that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons. On the contrary, the Syrian side had provided the visiting inspectors “undeniable proof” that militants had indeed used these weapons. In an interview with the BBC, Mr. Mekdad said: “We do not trust the western countries which support terrorists in Syria and Jabhat al-Nusra [an Al-Qaeda associate]; we have the right to defend ourselves, dignity and lands by using all means available and our people are ready for that.”
In the wake of a possible strike, Syria’s top ally Iran has once again warned that an attack on Syria would quickly trigger a chain reaction and quickly spread into the region. In a telephone conversation with his Syrian counterpart, Iran’s defence minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said that “not only will the use of force and violence fail to relieve tensions but will also intensify the crisis and cause it to spread to other political entities.”
On Thursday the British parliament rejected a resolution piloted by Prime Minister David Cameron that would have cleared the path for British participation in an attack on Syria. Germany has also decided to stay away from moves to strike Syria. “We are not considering a military strike,” said Steffen Seibert, the spokesman for German chancellor Angela Merkel. Analysts say that a decision on military action in Syria is likely to materialise after UN inspectors present their report to the Secretary General Ban ki-Moon.