After its veto on investigation, Russia seeks to erase evidence of Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack
Russia vetoes a resolution condemning use of cw in Syria on April 5, 2017 (AP)
After more than two weeks from the chemical attack carried out by the Assad regime, the investigation of the crime was closed by the Russian veto. Although Russia still claims that the Syrian armed opposition is responsible for chemical weapons attack preventing an international investigation under the auspices of the Security Council, this can only be anticipated as an attempt to kill time and evade the possibility of proving Assad’s unquestioned responsibility for the massacre. Russia did not stop at the veto, but began to make a preliminary assessment of the results confirmed that the international organizations responsible for the investigation of this type of weapons are politicized and linked to Western countries and are trying to burn the credibility of any report that may be issued later. But things will not end here; therefore, it was necessary for Moscow to do something to erase the crime and its effects.
In recent days, the northern mountains of Hama witnessed a major military confrontation between the Syrian armed opposition on the one hand and the regime forces supported by sectarian militias and private Russian forces on the other. The battles spread to a number of villages and towns with densely populated towns such as Taybat al-Imam, Suran and Maharada. However, the timing of the current attack by Assad and his allies is not without deception. The opposition forces noted a huge presence of Russian special forces on different fronts of the fighting, which did not exist in previous battles. The Russians were always trying to get away from the first lines of fight. Videos from Hama northern countryside also illustrate the size of Russia’s large air force burning areas in front of ground troops assisting them to advance. On the other hand, Russia has increased the use of internationally banned white phosphorus in addition to highly destructive parachute and cluster bombs as if it had become life or death for them, something further made clear after the announcement of Moscow of the killing of three military advisers of the Russian army within three days. Because of this madness of destruction, Russia under the name of Assad “army” managed to control a number of towns, lately Suran and Taybat al-Imam.
The main objective of this military operation by Russia is to reach the Khan Sheikhoun area in any way possible, with the clashes only 20 km from the town. If Moscow succeeds in reaching Khan Sheikhoun, it will develop chemical weapons and show that the Syrian armed opposition is the one who carried out the chemical attack. It will also remove the effects of the previous crime committed by Assad.
Under the situation of dispersion experienced by the factions of the Syrian military opposition in the shadow of Russian military madness, the opposition must rearrange its cards. The time factor is very important. The US administration, which for the first time moved against Assad, began to rearrange its policy in the Syrian south and north, and in the Middle East in general. Russia is well aware of this, so Moscow is trying to increase its chances for a future political solution by controlling as much Syrian land as possible and at the expense of a river of blood of Syrian civilians. I am sure that the time has come for the Syrian military opposition to unite its military capabilities even if its ideologies are different. The enemy does not distinguish between moderates, militants or children. The political opposition should not give more legitimacy to the Russians through the meetings of Astana, which only bring to the Syrian people more murder and displacement.
Eva J. Koulouriotis is a Greek political analyst specialized in the Middle East. Twitter: @evacool_f, Facebook: @evakoulouriotis