New York: US National Security Adviser John Bolton says his country has been in talks with Britain and France to orchestrate a military strike on Syria that will be “much stronger” than the joint operation the three allies carried out earlier this year.
Fielding questions after a policy speech in Washington on Monday, Bolton said the Western alliance was ready to pound Syria in case the government of President Bashar al-Assad resorted to what he claimed was a “third use” of chemical weapons.
“We’ve tried to convey the message in recent days that if there’s a third use of chemical weapons, the response will be much stronger,” Bolton said.
The US has so far conducted two separate attacks against Syrian Army positions under the pretext that Damascus was using chemical weapons against civilians.
The first attack came in April 2017, when US President Donald Trump ordered US Navy warships in the Mediterranean to fire a total of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase that the Pentagon had claimed was used to carry put a deadly chemical attack against the people of Khan Shaykhun, in the country’s northwestern province of Idlib.
Roughly a year after that attack, Trump along with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister Theresa May authorized a joint missile attack against alleged chemical weapons manufacturing sites inside Syria.
The attack, which came in response to what the US and its allies insisted was another chemical attack in Douma, on the outskirts of Damascus, saw 105 cruise missiles being fired from sea and air at Syrian government targets.
Now, as Syria gears up for an attack to retake Idlib, the last major bastion of terrorists in the country, Washington is threatening a third strike.
“I can say we’ve been in consultation with the British and the French, who joined us in the second strike, and they also agree that another use of chemical weapons will result in a much stronger response,” Bolton warned Monday.
Syria has firmly denied claims that it’s behind the attacks and instead blamed them on militant groups and foreign agents who are in Syria as aid workers.
The aim, Damascus argues, is to get the West involved in a fight that the Assad government has already won.
Russia, which has been assisting Assad in purging the terrorists since 2015, has echoed the same point, specifically naming the White Helmets activist group as the real perpetrators of the Douma attack.
Moscow has also warned that terrorists are getting prepared to stage another chemical attack in Idlib to give US enough evidence to attack.
In 2014, Syria finished dismantling its stockpiles of chemical weapons under a joint mission led by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Bolton’s remarks follow controversial revelations by an incendiary book on machinations of the Trump White House.
Dubbed Fear, the book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward claims that Trump had once told his Defense Secretary James Mattis that he wanted to assassinate Assad.