In the latest step to ratchet up US-Russia tensions ahead of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Moscow visit, US officials today accused Russia of knowing ahead of time that Syria was going to carry out a chemical weapons attack against rebels in Idlib Province.
The “evidence” to back this claim up, the officials claimed, was the presence of a Russian drone overhead near a hospital victims were taken to, though they provided no evidence the drone actually was Russian, and US officials initially conceded they weren’t sure about the drone’s identity.
On top of that, they are accusing an airstrike against the one of the hospitals by an unidentified jet to be proof Russia tried to destroy the evidence, despite admitting that they don’t know that the plane was Russian, and not Syrian.
While the claims are that a drone wouldn’t be near a hospital unless they knew a chemical attack was imminent, and that no jet would bomb a hospital except to destroy intelligence, the US routinely has drones looming over various areas in its assorted warzones, and indeed routinely attacks hospitals and rescue teams in “double-tap” strikes to kill those wounded in its own airstrikes.
Buried amidst all the unverified allegations against Russia by unnamed “senior officials,” came one significant concession, that the “US has no proof of Russian involvement in the actual chemical attack in northern Syria.” That’s unsurprising, as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) hasn’t even been able to confirm that the attack took place yet, though the US quickly attacked Syria on that basis without waiting for such a determination.
And now, having attacked Syria on the basis of a premature assumption, the US seems to be doubling down on ever-worsening US-Russia relations by making even more reckless allegations, which they themselves concede they have no way of proving, seemingly just to keep tensions high.
While Tillerson’s visit to Russia was initially expected to be an effort to secure normalization of US-Russia relations after years of hostilities, it now seems like Tillerson would be doing well if he manages to avoid making things any worse than they already are, and doesn’t end up starting a war.