Drawing a parallel between Iraq in 2003 and Syria today, Russia warned the U.S. against taking unilateral action in Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry on Sunday said such action will be a repeat of past mistakes of the U.S. in the region. This warning from Russia came amid reports the the U.S. and the UK were contemplating options for military strike against government forces in Syria on complains of chemical weapon use.
Meanwhile, reports said that the U.S. navy has reinforced its presence in the eastern Mediterranean after the U.S. and the UK threatened of a "serious response" if it was confirmed that government forces in Syria, indeed, used chemical weapons.
Last week, even as UN inspectors were in Syria to investigate past cases of chemical weapon use, reports on Wednesday said that the Syria government forces loyal to President Assad carried out a poison gas attack on Ghouta region outside Damascus. Rebels put the death toll in that attack at 1300. The Syrian army, however, termed the accusation as fabricated.
Meanwhile, Syrian government on Sunday allowed UN inspectors to visit the site of Wednesday's alleged chemical attack. Under a limited mandate, the UN chemical weapon investigators led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom were in the country to investigate three sites of earlier attacks that included Khan al-Assal and two other undisclosed locations.
The U.S. has been under pressure to action in Syria since the Ghouta attack was reported. Terming it the "red line," President Obama had in Aug. 2012 said that the U.S. would take military action against Syria if it used chemical weapons against rebel forces. Obama's opponents have been accusing him of damaging his own credibility by refusing to back up his warning on Syria with overt military action. However, the U.S. has been shying away from embroiling itself in an open-ended Syrian civil war.
However, the Russian warning to the U.S. is not without reason.
In 2003, the U.S. and its allies had attacked Iraq under Saddam Hussein, claiming that his government had stockpile of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). However, the U.S. was left red-faced after it was found that the country did not posses any WMDs. Iraq has since been in turmoil.
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