By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times
Joint attack on Syrian facilities violates UN Charter: FM
A Syrian soldier films the damage of the Syrian Scientific Research Center attacked by US, British and French military strikes to punish President Bashar al-Assad for an alleged chemical attack against civilians, in Barzeh, near Damascus, Syria, on Saturday. Photo: AP
China has expressed opposition to the US-led attacks on alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria, with experts saying that the situation will not escalate and the Syrian government’s edge in the country’s civil war is unlikely to be affected.
The US, Britain and France fired more than 100 missiles at three alleged chemical weapons storage and research facilities near Damascus and Homs after an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma a week ago.
The Syrian government has strongly denied allegations of its chemical attack, calling on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send a fact-finding mission to investigate. However, the three nations carried out the strike the day the mission arrived in Damascus.
“Just like in 2013, ‘chemical attacks’ always happened when the Syrian government made gains in the war, which means the government doesn’t need to use chemical weapons at all, and the video provided by the West is questionable evidence, so it looks like the West created an excuse to intervene in the Syrian war,” said Hua Liming, an expert on the Middle East and a former Chinese ambassador to Iran.
The UN Security Council met on Saturday at Russia’s request, and a Russian bid for the Security Council to condemn the Western powers’ air strikes on Syria failed after only China and Bolivia joined Russia in voting for the draft resolution, Reuters reported.
“Why didn’t you wait for the outcome of the investigation you called for?” Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said after the vote. He accused the US, France and Britain of “demonstrating a blatant disregard for international law.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Saturday that China opposes “the use of force in international relations” and “any unilateral military action bypassing the Security Council runs contrary to the purpose and principles of the UN Charter and violates the principles of international law and the basic norms governing international relations, and will further complicate the Syrian issue.”
China believes that a comprehensive, impartial and objective investigation should be carried out on the suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria to reach a reliable conclusion that can stand the test of time. Before that, no prejudgments should be made, she said.
Avoiding a full-scale war
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said on Friday that the attack had multiple targets in Syria, including a scientific research center in the greater Damascus area, a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs and a facility in the second target, CNN reported.
“The targets have been selected carefully, and the strikes will be limited. It shows that the US and its allies won’t start a full-scale war with Russia, and they are not trying to destroy the Syrian government,” said Gu Zhenglong, a senior research fellow at the Xinhua Center for World Affairs Studies.
The French defense minister said Russia was warned ahead of the military attacks on Syria, AP reported on Saturday.
“So this proves that Western powers want to show they are tough but, at the same time, try to prevent an escalation of tensions. And Russia’s response was also cautious,” Hua Liming said.
US President Donald Trump has used tough words, so he needs to act to prove his determination, and the UK and France expressed their support for the US, so the actions were politically rather than militarily driven, Gu noted.
“No Russian or Iranian military bases have been affected so far, and the Syrian government’s strategic advantage will not be damaged too much by this kind of missile strike, so it will still maintain its edge in the civil war,” Hua Liming noted.