The United States and France are planning military strikes against the Syrian government, diplomatic sources told the Middle East Eye Thursday, the second time such direct attack would take place since the beginning of the war in Syria seven years ago.
The Donald Trump administration and the French government are “keen to take a tougher line on Russia in Syria,” a diplomatic source close to the Syrian opposition told the London-based website. The attack will be justified as a response to alleged chemical attacks by the Syrian government in recent weeks, which has been repeatedly denied by Damascus.
The news comes a day after the U.S.-led coalition said it attacked Syrian government and allied fighters in eastern Syria, killing more than 100.
Such direct strikes against Syrian government positions would be the second ever of its kind by Western armies operating in the war-torn country. Last year Trump authorized the launching of 59 missiles against Syrian army positions in response to an alleged sarin attack by Damascus, which it also denied.
At the time, in June 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to support the U.S. in any future attacks on the Syrian government in response to alleged chemical attacks. The sources also told MEE that the latest plan is being led by Trump’s National Security Adviser HR McMaster.
Thursday’s report echos a similar report earlier this month in which U.S. officials said they were prepared to attack the Syrian government using the alleged chemical arms as pretext because such weapons “will spread if we don't do something," the unnamed officials told reporters in a briefing last week.
In 2013 the Syrian government agreed to dismantle and dispose its chemical weapons arsenal as part of a U.N. brokered deal to end the use of the weapons in the country.
The government of Bashar Assad claims that anti-government factions have gained access to such weapons in the early days of the war and are the ones using them in order to put the blame on Syrian army forces.