The Pentagon and White House administration officials are considering air strikes against Syrian government and military targets, a move which would likely mean war with Syrian Leader Bashar al Assad’s allies, Russia and China.
A suspected chemical attack in Douma, one of the few remaining towns held by rebel forces, presented Moscow with dire predictions that widescale disaster would surely follow if Washington launched air strikes in response. Russian officials deny claims that its Syrian allies used an alleged chemical agent that resulted in the deaths of dozens of Syrians. It is important to note that the rebel forces in Douma consist of ISIS-backed forces, which Assad has accused of killing their own in an effort to further destabilize the region and garner military support from the West.
As US forces plan air strikes and locate more troops in the region, French President Emmanuel Macron has placed French Air Force pilots on high alert, in preparation for joint operations with US coalition forces against Assad, as reported by Le Figaro. Civilian airlines have since been advised to avoid Syrian airspace for the next 48 hours, a clear indication that air strikes will be carried out during that corridor.
In response, Chinese warships in the Mediterranean have been ordered by Chinese officials to join the Russian navy in the event of an attack on Assad forces in Syria, sending a message to Washington and Paris that China will support the Kremlin in defending the Assad regime against US-led attacks. The ships in the two fleets vary from destroyers to carriers, and have missile payloads capable of striking US forces, both on the ground and at sea.
Meanwhile, the Syrian military and Russian forces in the region have scrambled fighters and readied anti-aircraft defenses in preparation for the increasing likelihood of air strikes carried out by the US and France, as well as warning that any unauthorized aircraft in Syrian airspace will be shot down.
Igor Korotchenko, a Russian military scholar and a member of the Defense Ministry’s public advisory council, said, “Trump has to understand that we’re going to be talking about the possibility of nuclear escalation if we have a collision of the U.S. and Russian militaries.”
Russian General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov stated last month that the Russian military and FSB had obtained intel showing the U.S. was planning to orchestrate a faked chemical attack in Syria, and use it as a justification for military intervention in the form of airstrikes and targeting Assad forces with missiles. At the time of his statements, he warned that Russia would respond by destroying aircraft and missile launchers responsible for carrying out such attacks.
Russia has adamantly denied the authenticity of Washington’s official narrative on the attack in Douma, as well as the alleged poisoning of former Russian spy-turned MI6 informant Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England last month.
“The U.S. declared economic war on us, they also declared diplomatic war, and everything now indicates that they want to test our armed forces in a local conflict,” said Russian lawmaker Igor Morozov.