Last updated on September 5th, 2018
Russia, a military ally of Syria, has deployed its biggest naval buildup to the Mediterranean Sea, since it entered the Syrian conflict in 2015. On Tuesday, Russian newspaper Izvestiya reported that Moscow’s largest naval contingent, majorly armed with Kalibr cruise missiles, and two submarines are heading towards the eastern Mediterranean. It also stated that further naval enforcement is on the way to counter increased US military presence in the region.
In respond, senior U.S. officials cautioned the Russian and Syrian governments for using chemical weapons in Syria, as reports of President Bashar Assad plan to attack on a rebel stronghold.
The United States “will respond to any verified chemical weapons use in Idlib or elsewhere in Syria in a swift and appropriate manner,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters in Washington.
Nauert added that high-ranking U.S. officials are in talks with their Russian counterparts “to make this point very clear to Damascus.” She strongly asserted the use of chemical weapons “will not be tolerated.”
She also informed: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Russia— a military associate of Assad — would be held accountable.
The Syrian government is clearing the decks for an offensive in Idlib region, which is home to nearly 3 million people, and large footprints of al-Qaida and Syrian rebel groups.
President Donald Trump has twice conducted airstrikes in Syria opposing the chemical weapons attacks on the Syrian land. However, Trump said that strikes were launched to deter Assad from using chemical weapons in the future.
In the records of western countries and autonomous analysts, Syrian government and their allied forces have launched several chemical weapons attacks since the beginning of civil war. In 2017 and 2018, alleged chemical attacks provoked the US to launch harsh strikes against the Syrian forces. However, the Syrian government has denied the allegations of using chemical weapons ever.