The United States has warned Russia that it would be ready to strike Syria again if President Bashar Assad and his government use chemical weapons in the country, the Bloomberg news agency said on Friday citing own sources.
According to the agency’s sources, the warning was conveyed by National Security Adviser John Bolton to his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, during their Thursday’s meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.
The agency says that Washington “has information that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may use chemical weapons as he seeks to recapture one of the country’s last rebel-held areas” – in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib.
During the talks with Patrushev, Bolton said the United States would respond with stronger military action that it has used in Syria in the past – in 2017 and 2018.
The sides also discussed possible withdrawal of US servicemen from the military base on the border between Syria and Iraq, and prospects of their cooperation with Russian forces, deployed nearby. According to the agency, no agreement was reached on this issue.
Besides, the United States also rejected Moscow’s proposal to freeze the introduction of sanctions on Iran as part of a broader Syrian settlement plan.
A number of non-government organizations, including the White Helmets, alleged that a chemical weapons attack had taken place in Eastern Ghouta’s town of Douma on April 7. The Russian Foreign Ministry slammed this allegation as a bogus story, while Russia’s Defense Ministry pointed out that the White Helmets were known for spreading fabricated news. On April 9, officers from the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the opposing sides in Syria visited Douma but did not find any traces of chemical weapons. The United States, Britain and France used the rumors of the incident as a pretext to deal a massive air strike on Syria without approval from the UN Security Council on April 14.
On April 7, 2017, US President Donald Trump ordered a strike on the Shayrat air base. The attack, involving 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, came as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Idlib Governorate on April 4. Damascus dismissed those accusations, based on testimony by the White Helmets organization.