BOMBINGS of Syrian military facilities by US-lead coalition forces who accuse the Middle Eastern country’s regime of using chemical weapons against civilians on Saturday, sparked fears that it would trigger World War III amid Russia’s involvement and China’s military posturing.
This week China is holding a live-fire drill in the Taiwan Strait following the staging of its biggest naval parade in the country’s history last Thursday. The drill, according to the South China Morning Post, was meant to show support to Beijing’s strategic Partner, Russia, which is heavily involved in the seven-year-long civil war in Syria.
The Hong Kong paper quoted Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong as saying military conflict between the US and Russia in Syria could “break out at any time”.
“It’s very likely that as Russia’s strategic partner, China [is using its] navy to show its political support to Russia at such a sensitive moment,” Wong said. “The People’s Liberation Army Navy was ordered to move their drills to the Taiwan Strait to test their emergency response in combat.”
The United States, France and Britain launched 105 missiles targeting what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities in Syria in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in Douma on April 7, according to Reuters.
They have said the missile strikes were limited to Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities and not aimed at toppling Syrian President Bashaar al-Assad or intervening in the civil war.
The Western countries blame the Syrian government and its ally Russia for the Douma attack that killed dozens of people. Both deny involvement in any such attack. The bombings represent the most significant intervention to date by the West against Assad.
In response to the attack, China’s foreign ministry condemned the actions of the Western alliance and said it believes a political settlement is the only way to resolve the Syrian issue. It called for a full, fair and objective investigation into suspected chemical weapon attacks in Syria.
Hua Chunying, the ministry’s spokeswoman, made the comments at a press conference according to a transcript posted on its website.
Hua said that China has consistently opposed the use of force in international relations and that any military action that bypassed the United Nations’ Security Council violated the principles and basic norms of international law.
According to Newsweek, Google searches for the phrase “World War 3” spiked in wake of the US-led attack.
In April 2017, a large number of internet users also searched the term “World War 3” after US president Donald Trump ordered a missile strike on a Syrian airfield used to launch the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack, which killed dozens of civilians.
On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that further Western attacks on Syria would bring chaos to world affairs, as Washington prepared to increase pressure on Moscow with new economic sanctions.
In a telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, Putin and Rouhani agreed that the Western strikes had damaged the chances of achieving a political resolution in the seven-year Syria conflict, according to a Kremlin statement.
“Vladimir Putin, in particular, stressed that if such actions committed in violation of the UN Charter continue, then it will inevitably lead to chaos in international relations,” the Kremlin statement said.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, told CBS‘ “Face the Nation” program that the United States would announce new economic sanctions on Monday aimed at companies “that were dealing with equipment” related to Bashar’s alleged chemical weapons use.
On Monday afternoon, Russian warships and military vehicles were spotted on their way to Syria raising fears as the world anticipates Putin’s response, according to Express.co.uk.
The movement of the Russian vessels, according to the British news site, come after a statement by Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov: “A pre-designed scenario is being implemented.
“Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences. “Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.
“The US – the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons – has no moral right to blame her countries.”