Alwaght- The Syrian province of Idlib which is the last major stronghold of foreign-backed militant and terrorist groups in the country is turning into a central challenge in the eight-year crisis of the Arab nation. On the one hand, central government after sweeping victories against the armed groups in the southern fronts specifically in Daraa and Quneitra seeks to take the biggest step to end the crisis in the country without bowing to the opponents and their foreign backers' conditions in the largely twisted peace talks; on the other hand the US and its European allies are doing their best to prevent Damascus from uprooting terrorism from the West Asian state..
Over the past few days, reports suggested that the US and its allies France and Britain are preparing for a false flag chemical attack to be used as an excuse to launch missile strikes on the Syrian government’s sites. The would-be Western scenario was revealed by the spokesperson to the Russian ministry of defense Igor Konashenkov. The spokesperson warned that the Tahrir Al-Sham terrorist group, formerly Al-Nusra Front, has transferred eight chlorine gas tankers to a village just a few kilometers from the Jisr al-Sheghour town of Idlib to stage a gas attack. He continued that at the same time, the USS The Sullivans guided-missile destroyer has entered the Persian Gulf waters and the B-1 bombers were deployed to the Al-Udaid Airbase in Qatar prepared to launch air raids against the Syrian government targets.
The Russian information become even more serious regarding remarks of US National Security Advisor John Bolton who during a meeting with the Secretary of the Russian National Security Council Nikolai Patrushev last week warned that if the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons in his new offensive, the US and its allies are ready to strike the Syrian government once again.
French President also in remarks echoing those of Bolton warned on Monday that his country was ready to conduct further airstrikes in Syria in response to potential Damascus' use of chemical weapons.
The warnings have a signal to pass: In the current circumstances, the Western camp is severely disconcerted with the idea of seeing President Assad retaking Idlib as the last significant safe haven of a wide range of terrorist factions. The West looks quite resolved to prevent, at any price, the repeat of what happened in the south. But the Americans' options to realize their goal appear to be extremely limited for two reasons: First, Idlib is majorly controlled by Tahrir Al-Sham, a terrorist group, that offers legitimacy to the government’s liberating offensive. Second, the Kurds, once recognized infantry of the US on the Syrian ground, are negotiating with Damascus for a confrontation-evading deal to secure a place in the country's future amid their doubt on Washington's reliability.
In 2016 and 2018 apparently-staged chemical attacks on Khan Sheikhun and Duma, both in the capital's suburbs, Washington and its two allies accused the President Assad's government. A few days after the alleged attack, the trio, without presenting evidence or waiting for a UN-led probe into the incident, launched missile raids on Syrian military and civilian sites. The US-led strikes came while, first, the government had destroyed its chemical arms stockpiles under a UN supervision in 2013 and later chemical materials were recovered from the terrorist-controlled areas. And second, the Syrian Arab Army had an upper hand in the equations and no military logic justified such gas attacks even if the materials were available to the military forces. In fact, Damascus never needed to risk coming under international blame while the course of developments in the battlefronts was in its favor. The same logic is solidly present now that the government reclaimed much of the territories and only a small part remains terrorist-controlled.
One thing should be remembered. The past attacks by Washington and its allies in practice did not change the course of the conflict to their, or the terrorists', advantage. And clearly, the army and its allies will turn out victors in the Idlib battle. After all, the opposition and terrorists theoretically have accepted the defeat and no Western help can revive their control over the recaptured lands. And the Western military intervention will very likely draw stronger Russian reaction than before. Moscow leaders cannot allow the conflict to last longer as they are counting the costs of the war. The West is aware that in case of a Western alliance’s strikes this time Russia's response could be delivery of the modern S-400 air defense systems to Syria.
Having in mind that the Western powers cannot do much to turn the tide to their own advantage, even with a false flag chemical attack, the developers of the plot have two goals behind their scheme: first sending a message that they will not sit on their hands while the Syrian government pushes against the West-backed militants groups; second, they seek to prolong the crisis in Syria.
The crisis is dragging the Western actors and their regional proxies to an impasse despite their massive expenses. Their role has nearly ended as the opposition and Turkey, once a pro-US player but now at odds with it, turned heads to Astana peace process. Therefore, the best resort for now is spinning out the war under gas assault claims.