WASHINGTON — The Trump administration now seems poised to launch an attack on the Syrian government in response to any type of military operation targeting Syria’s Idlib province, according to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. Speaking on Fox News on Wednesday, Haley stated that any Syrian attack on Idlib, regardless of whether or not chemical weapons are allegedly used, would be “dealt with” and provoke a U.S. response, before ominously warning the Syrian government, “Don’t test us again.”
Haley’s comments fit with recent reporting regarding Trump’s alleged plan to conduct a “massive attack” against the Syrian government if a “massacre” occurs – even if only conventional weapons are used. Those same reports also indicated that the Trump administration was also considering whether or not to expand military strikes to include not just Syrian government forces but also the forces of Syria’s military allies in the conflict, Iran and Russia.
During her Wednesday interview, Haley went on to characterize Syria’s Idlib province as being populated only by “civilian people,” even though the U.S. government admitted last year that Syria’s last “rebel-held” province is the “largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” Since 2017, Idlib has been largely under the control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham — Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch and formerly known as al-Nusra Front — or one of its affiliates, like Ahrar al-Sham.
Haley’s recent comments downplaying the Al Qaeda presence in Idlib follow those recently made by James Jeffrey, the U.S.’ new representative for Syria engagement, who told The Washington Post last week that “rebels” in Idlib are “not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator.”
Rebel fighters from the Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest) brigades, which include other rebel factions, parade through the streets of Idlib, Syria. Omar Haj Kadour | AP
However, despite Haley’s threats, the Syrian government seems to preparing for its upcoming offensive on the Idlib province, as the Syrian Arab Army launched a large assault across the Idlib-Hama border on Thursday, targeting al-Nusra positions and shelling the al-Nusra-controlled town of Tamanah, which is in the southern part of Idlib.
As the Syrian government seems determined to proceed with its ultimate goal of liberating Idlib from rebel control, the U.S. – as Haley had hinted – seems to be making military preparations of its own. Indeed, early Thursday, another U.S. guided-missile destroyer – the USS Bulkeley – entered the Mediterranean. According to RT, the Bulkeley’s recent arrival will allow the U.S. to have up to 200 Tomahawk cruise missiles available in the event the Trump administration chooses to take military action against Syria.
The Russian military presence in Syria has warned that a “chemical weapons” justification for an imminent U.S. strike is likely to be forthcoming, as the controversial White Helmets group began filming mock chemical weapons attacks on Tuesday and have since filmed nine videos purporting to show civilians exposed to chlorine gas and then being “rescued” by the White Helmets.
The aftermath of what the White Helmets claims was a chemical weapons attack in city of Douma, Syria, April, 7, 2018. Photo | White Helmets
As MintPress has noted in the past, the White Helmets are funded by the U.S., U.K. and other foreign governments, and were founded by a former U.K. military intelligence officer turned mercenary. Over the course of the war, the White Helmets have been caught staging attacks, kidnapping children, and also cooperating with terrorist groups — including the dominant group in Idlib, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
Conveniently for the Trump administration, the imminent release of videos blaming the Syrian government for a staged chemical weapons attack comes just as the U.S. announced that it would maintain its illegal military presence in Syria “indefinitely,” after “redefining its goals” to again include regime change in Damascus and efforts to contain Iran’s regional influence.
Whether staged evidence from the controversial White Helmets is used or the order for military action is given without chemical-weapons accusations, the U.S. seems determined to embroil itself in another quagmire, all in a last-ditch effort to remake and forever dominate Syria and the entire Middle East.
Watch | Nikki Haley tells Syria, Russia and Iran not to ‘test’ US
Top Photo | U. S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speak to reporters at United Nations headquarters, July 20, 2018. Mary Altaffer | AP
Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.
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