- AFP/File Shah Marai
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly believes the US will order a military strike against Syria, a source told local media.
- The potential strike would be in retaliation for the suspected chemical attack in Douma that killed and injured scores of people.
- Several moves indicate the region may be preparing for an air-based confrontation in the Middle East.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly believes the US will order a military strike Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack on Saturday.
A senior Israeli official told Israel’s Channel 10 that in a closed security cabinet discussion on Monday, Netanyahu said he is anticipating a US strike. The Prime Minister’s office has not confirmed or issued any comment on the report.
The official told Channel 10 that Netanyahu’s comment indicates his support of possible US military retaliation against Syria.
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement condemning the April 7 chemical attack, and squarely put blame on the Assad government.
“The Syrian regime continues to perpetrate crimes against humanity in using these outlawed weapons. The latest attack joins a long series of similar attacks using chemical weapons perpetrated by the regime since Assad undertook to disarm from such weapons,” the statement read.
“The attack shows clearly that Syria continues to possess lethal chemical weapons capabilities and even to manufacture new ones. In so doing Syria is grossly violating its obligations and the decisions of the international community in this matter,” it added.
Russian and Syrian forces have denied their involvement in the attack and have said that it was unclear if chemical weapons were even used.
News of Netanyahu’s expectation of a strike follows President Donald Trump’s comments on Monday, when he said a decision would be made on how to respond to the attack in Syria “within 48 hours.” Trump also spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron, and the two agreed to a “strong, joint response” if chemical weapon use was confirmed.
There may be some indications of preparations for airstrikes
Several moves indicate preparations for an air-based confrontation in the Middle East may be occurring.
On Monday, Syrian state media reported a military airfield was hit by an airstrike, killing four Iranian fighters. The US denied carrying out the reported attack, while Russia and Syria lobbed blame at Israel, which has not commented.
Since then, there have been unconfirmed reports of US-coalition aircrafts spotted near the Syrian-Iraqi border and over Jordan.
Eurocontrol, the EU’s air traffic control agency, issued an alert on Tuesday evening (local time) warning flight operators about potential missiles in the region.
“Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean/Nicosia FIR area,” a statement read.
According to Al Jazeera, Syrian forces have been put on “high alert.”
The White House confirmed Trump has cancelled plans to travel to Peru for a summit “to oversee the American response to Syria” while US Defense Secretary James Mattis has also reportedly cancelled upcoming engagements.