Germany Will Not Join Bombing Campaign in Syria - Chancellor Merkel
14:39 12.04.2018(updated 15:53 12.04.2018)
US President Donald Trump has threatened to attack Syria in retaliation to an alleged chemical attack which he quickly blamed on the Syrian government. Damascus has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons and has vowed to defend itself in the event of military aggression by the West.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on April 12 that a range of measures must be considered to tackle the crisis in Syria, but German forces will not attack the Syrian Army or other government forces.
She also said that "it is important to show unity on Syria" and warned that it's "obvious" the Syrian government has not destroyed its entire stockpile of chemical weapons, as it agreed to do in 2013.
"Germany will not take part in possible military action – I want to make clear again that there are no decisions – but we see, and support this, that everything is being done to send a signal that this use of chemical weapons is not acceptable," Chancellor Merkel said on Thursday.
Fears of a US attack against Syria were stoked after Trump warned that "smart" missiles would be fired at the country in response to an alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma over the weekend, which was quickly blamed on President Bashar al-Assad's government, despite there being no evidence implicating government forces.
Although the US acted alone last year, with a guided-missile destroyer firing dozens of tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase in Homs province, it seems that Trump is attempting to assemble a military coalition to potentially launch a widescale military campaign against Syrian government forces.
Germany's unwillingness to take part in such a campaign deals a blow to Trump's plan to launch a concerted war effort against Damascus. The UK and France have emerged as the most likely candidates for such an anti-Assad military coalition with the US.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure to call a parliamentary vote before launching military action, but is not legally obliged to do so.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron today claimed to possess evidence implicating Assad in last weekend's alleged chemical attack, but is yet to announce any immediate plans to strike Syria.
Trump indicated that he may have backpaddled from his hawkish stance today, when he tweeted that the US may militarily intervene in Syria "very soon or not so soon at all!"
Moscow has called for restraint and an investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to determine if chemical agents were indeed used in Douma last weekend.
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