US prepared initial list of Syria targets for possible strike: Report
Iran Press TV
Sat Sep 1, 2018 10:21AM
The United States has reportedly drawn up a preliminary list of facilities in Syria that could be targeted in case of a false flag chemical weapons attack in the war-torn country.
Several US officials told CNN on Friday that American intelligence and military targeting experts had already compiled the list, but a decision to launch the strike has not been made.
One of the officials said that the US military "could respond very quickly" to an alleged gas attack in Syria and that the initial targeting data would give the Pentagon a head start if President Donald Trump orders assault.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States views the Syrian government military assault on terrorist-held Idlib as an escalation of the Syrian conflict.
The Syrian province of Idlib and surrounding areas are the last major enclave held by terrorists.
"The US sees this as an escalation of an already dangerous conflict," Pompeo said in a post on Twitter in which he also blasted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for defending the operation.
Damascus and Moscow have warned that the US, along with Britain and France, is gearing up for a new military attack against Syria as the army prepares for a liberation operation in Idlib.
Syria and Russia also obtained evidence revealing yet another plot by Takfiri terrorists to carry out a chemical attack in Idlib and pin the blame on Damascus with the aim of justifying an ensuing Western act of aggression.
On April 14, the US, Britain and France launched a coordinated missile strike against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government's capability to produce chemicals.
The strike came one week after an alleged gas attack hit the Damascus suburb town of Douma, just as the Syrian army was about to win the battle against the militants there.
Western states blamed the Syrian government for the incident, but Damascus firmly rejected the accusation.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Western states not to "play with fire" in Idlib.
"It's well known that the progress of Syrian resolution, humanitarian solutions and fight against terrorism is not to everyone's liking," he said.
The Pentagon claimed in response that Moscow "is seeking to plant false lies about the use of chemical weapons" in Syria.
Elsewhere in their remarks, American officials told CNN that the Russians may have engaged in the buildup of naval warships ahead of a possible US strike.
"By having so many ships there, the Russians can attempt to use their shipborne radars to blanket that area and 'see' any potential US Tomahawk missiles coming," an official said, warning that Russian shipborne radars could cue S-400 missile systems in Syria and try to shoot US missiles down.
'Syria resolved to liberate Idlib'
Syria's deputy foreign minister on Friday stressed that his country is determined to end the presence of terror outfits in Idlib, noting that certain Western countries continue to support militants through circulating "lies" on the use of chemical weapons.
In an interview with the Syrian TV, Faisal Mekdad censured a media misleading campaign regarding Syria's planned counter-terrorism operation in Idlib.
"If the Western forces take any reckless step, Syria will retaliate and will be not be subjugated and it will practice its self-defense right which is guaranteed by all the international laws," he said.
Mikdad further reiterated that terrorists are the ones who use chemical weapons in Syria.
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