If the outside world was excited about a U.S. retaliatory plan for the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against rebels, the families in the capital’s old Mezzah neighborhood struck a tone in utter contrast.
“America is inventing stories about chemical weapons,” one man told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen. “The Syrian government never used chemical weapons. The rebels have used them, not the government. So they are inventing stories because our army is winning.”
Another man, also shopping for household staples, said the U.S. action won’t make a difference. The government will prevail in the civil war, he asserted.
The intervention is in the wake of reports that the Assad regime is using chemical weapons against its own citizens. But, there remain reports that this simply isn’t the case on the ground. As Al Jazeera reports:
“The White House has issued a statement full of lies about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, based on fabricated information,” a statement issued on Friday by the Syrian Foreign Ministry said.
“The United States is using cheap tactics to justify President Barack Obama’s decision to arm the Syrian opposition,” it said.
Russia, a staunch ally of the Syrian government, also disputed the US charge on Friday.
President Vladimir Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, told reporters that the information provided by US officials to Russia “didn’t look convincing”.
Russian officials are also not supporting U.S. plans for a no-fly zone over Syria.
“There have been leaks from Western media regarding the serious consideration to create a no-fly zone over Syria through the deployment of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles and F-16 jets in Jordan,” said Mr [Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei] Lavrov, speaking at a joint news conference in Moscow with his Italian counterpart.
“You don’t have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law,” he said.
Mr Lavrov also said evidence presented by the US of chemical weapons use in Syria apparently did not meet reliability criteria set out by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
The three-year-long conflict in Syria has been increasingly involving neighboring nations, and Hezbollah leaders have stated that they do not intend to back down in the conflict. This does not bode well for any plans that the U.S. could have for assisting the Syrian rebels – without taking into account arguments from within the U.S. that getting involved at this point would only be giving weapons to existing enemies of the U.S. There is no secret that Al Qaeda has been making in-roads in the Syrian resistance. Add to that it appears that even Israel does not foresee a stable nation in Syria with or without Assad, there seem to be very few, if any, redeeming factors to the U.S. stepping in any more than it has already.