Under Israeli pressure the US military has changed course from an earlier resistance to accepting reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, alleging in a letter to Congress that Damascus “may have used” chemical agents in the country.
The move came following Thursday remarks by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel during an official visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that American intelligence community made an assessment “with varying degrees of confidence… within the past 24 hours” that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons on a small scale, Pentagon’s ‘press service’ reported Thursday.
The claim by Hagel came following a reported inquiry by unidentified member of the US Congress, specifically asking the Obama administration whether chemical weapons have been used in Syria by the government or its supporters.
Moreover, the move came following earlier claims by the Israeli regime, Britain and France that chemical weapons have likely been used in Syria while giving no specifics on how and by whom.
This is while some pro-Israeli Republican lawmakers, who are also arms industry advocates, have been pushing the Obama administration to send arms to anti-Damascus militant gangs and even launch a military invasion of the key Middle Eastern nation in an outright attempt to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Meanwhile, US press reports on Thursday and Friday say the very vague acknowledgment by Washington of the possible use of chemical agents in Syria paves the way for hawkish members of Congress to put additional pressure on President Barack Obama to act on his earlier threat that chemical weapon use in that country would constitute a “game changer,” suggesting a major US intervention against Damascus.
Citing a phrase in the White House letter to Congress that “no option is off the table” should additional evidence confirm ‘mounting suspicions’ of chemical arms use in Syria, major US daily The Washington Post raised concerns that another US military action in Syria “would open up a new front in the Islamic world.”
The paper, however, also boasted that the an American military invasion against Syria “could also serve notice to Iran that Obama means what he says when he draws red lines.”
The suggestion comes in face insistence by top Iranian officials that any US or Israeli action against the Islamic Republic will set off immediate reaction by Iranian forces, extending far beyond the immediate region.
The daily further reports that among the military options the Obama administration considering against Syria is “using ship-fired missiles to destroy runways used by Syrian military aircraft,” claiming that the move has the backing “human rights groups.”
Earlier US media reports have pointed to an ongoing Pentagon plan to deploy a secret force of up to 200 Special Forces to a border area in Jordan near Syria to prepare for a later deployment of a 20,000-strong military force for a full military invasion of the country.
Hagel’s claims about the chemical arms use in Syria came at the conclusion of his tour of the Middle East region to sign major weapon deals with the Israeli regime, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE and also discuss anti-Damascus measures with the mostly Arab allied countries.