Two Syrian rebel groups formed by the United States have engaged the troops of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro. This group would be composed by trained dissidents who were taken to Jordan first and who have crossed the border “probably commanded and supported by Jordanians and Israelis,” said the newspaper, which does not specify the “military sources” that confirm this new step in the Syrian conflict.
Moreover, Russia had called the regime of Bashar al-Assad to cooperate with UN experts since Sunday and that included allowing the inspectors to investigate the use of chemical weapons in the conflict. In addition, UK believes that the Syrian regime is behind the alleged attack with chemical weapons, although it has shown no proof. Neither has France or the United States, all of which prepare an attack on Syria that could come as soon as this week, reports the UK Telegraph.
U.S. President Barack Obama, said in an interview with CNN’s that he had “grave concern” about the situation in the country following the alleged attack with chemical weapons which the rebels say killed up to 1,400 people in the east of Damascus. Independent sources have put the death toll at 350 people with over 1000 injured. Western nations haven’t been able to track the chemical attack to the Syrian government and instead it has been discovered that the Americans have been channeling chemical weapons to the Syrian rebel groups. These groups had previously shown the use of chemicals weapons on innocent Syrians before.
“The images we have seen indicate that it was a major event that causes great concern,” said Obama. But the U.S. President has also expressed reservations about an American military intervention in Syria. “If the U.S. attacks another country without UN mandate, then it raises questions about whether international law is being respected or not,” Obama warned. But Obama has been meeting secretely with Merkel, Hollande, Cameron and other partners to define the last details of a full attack on Syria which would probably start with missiles launched from British submarines and American vessels now waiting at sea.
Last week, the heads of the State Department, Pentagon and intelligence met to assess military responses to the Syrian crisis, according to The New York Times.
After more than a three-hour meeting, it is said that no agreement was reached. A section of the Administration is in favor of an outright answer, which could lead to the deployment of the air force, while others who attended the meeting considered it reckless to start any military intervention in the Arab country.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has announced that the head of diplomacy in Moscow, Sergei Lavrov, has agreed with Secretary of State John Kerry about the need for independent and objective research. Russia is the strongest ally that Assad has, from the beginning of the civil war in March 2011.
Moreover, the British Foreign Minister, William Hague, has expressed his suspicion that the alleged attack was done by the Damascus government. “We believe this is a large-scale attack with chemical weapons by the regime of Bashar al-Assad,” said the head of the Foreign Office in a statement, who added that now his “priority” is to have a team of inspectors from the UN to the affected area to gather evidence. Syria agreed to let the inspectors in just over the weekend.
The first group supposedly entered on 17 August, with about 300 troops, and the second, followed two days later, on the 19. Both agreed on meeting at the southern region of Deraa. Le Figaro explains that the U.S. government has completely ruled the deployment of American troops in Syria, but that sending members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) with better equipment can be a possibility. Many components of this dissident troops are, in fact, military deserters from Assad.
The paper not only gives this information but interprets that the advance of these two commands from the south, with Damascus as the ultimate goal, could have increased the nervousness of the regime and this would explain, for example, the case of the chemical attack on Wednesday at the periphery in the southeast of the capital. Also, it might have been understood that the U.S. might be planning the possibility to fully control the Deraa area to create a no-fly zone.
Army sources in Jordan, which has refused to confirm this information this morning, have recognized that the U.S. has left in its territory a large number of Patriots missiles and fighter aircraft F-16, used in the month of June during the maneuvers Eager Lion 2013 as a preventive measure at the request of the Government of Amman. These means, says Le Figaro, that those planes and weapons could be used to enforce this alleged security zone in southern Syria.
Jordan also confirms that, of the 8,000 U.S. troops who participated in the large-scale exercise, nearly a thousand have remained in the country. The government is haunted by the possibility that extremists invade the country through the northern border and the limited capacity to assist refugees, more than half a million people who have fled Syria since the beginning of the conflict.
The newspaper The Wall Street Journal also published a report explaining that the U.S. is already considering “all military options” that can be applied in Syria. Yesterday, the head of the Joint Chiefs, Martin Dempsey, dismissed the direct shipment of troops. Apparently, Americans are reworking a list of air targets to limit the regime’s military capabilities and prevent new attacks with chemical weapons, of which Washington claims to have evidence.
However, The New York Times adds that there is a noticeable divide between President Barack Obama’s team on what is the best option. Intelligence agencies, the Pentagon and the State Department met for three hours without conclusions. Its members however committed to send a hard message to Assad. For now the US has two destroyers deployed in the Mediterranean which can be used at any time to launch Tomahaw missiles.
Meanwhile, Syrian rebels have issued a statement explaining that they are trying to take samples of the more than 1,400 dead people from Ghouta. They say that the samples will prove the chemical attacks.