‘WE HAVE a lot of options militarily,’ US President Trump said yesterday banging the war drums against Syria, adding that a response would be decided ‘shortly’. Trump also spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron late on Monday, and both leaders expressed a desire for a ‘firm response’ to the fictitious ‘chemical attack’ in Douma.
Russia meanwhile said that if the West believes there’s been such an attack, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) should go immediately to Douma to investigate. The Syrian government has offered an official invitation for such a team to come to Syria and investigate, with Russia offering to act as a ‘guarantor of security’.
Meanwhile, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said yesterday that ‘if a red line has been crossed, there will be a response’, claiming that intelligence shared by the two leaders, Trump and Macron, ‘in theory confirms the use of chemical weapons.’
Tory PM Theresa May said yesterday she ‘utterly condemns’ the ‘barbaric’ incident, and called for the ‘backers of President Bashar al-Assad to be held to account’. May was repeatedly asked whether Parliament would vote on the issue but she evaded the question by answering a different one. May said: ‘We are working urgently with our allies to assess what has happened and we are also working with our allies on what action might be necessary.’
US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley has called for a vote on a draft resolution to go before the Security Council to set up a new inquiry into the use of chemical weapons in Syria. But Russia indicated that it would veto the resolution, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stating that Moscow would submit its own draft resolution proposing that inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visit Douma.
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said that if their motion is carried the experts can ‘immediately, tomorrow, fly to Damascus.’ Moscow is ready to serve as a guarantor of security for those OPCW experts who would inspect the site of the incident, Nebenzia added, stressing the need for the probe to be carried out without delay.
‘There, the Syrian authorities and Russian troops will provide conditions to travel to the area of the alleged incident for them to familiarise themselves with the situation,’ Nebenzia said. The Syrian Permanent Representative to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, said his country is also ready to welcome the OPCW team as soon as possible and to provide them with everything necessary for a comprehensive investigation.
‘My country, Syria, stresses its unlimited cooperation with the OPCW to fulfil the commitments stated in the convention of the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons,’ he said. However, President Trump is determined to strike Syria and Macron and May are to be his accomplices.