"The West isn't done with Syria," Pearson Sharp, an investigative reporter with One America News, told Sputnik. "While President Trump has signaled many times that he's eager to pull the US out of Syria, many members of his administration don't feel the same way, and it appears that despite his best efforts, they're pulling the strings behind the scenes. Regime change is the ultimate goal in Syria."
Controversy is simmering about the Syrian Arab Army's upcoming operation in Idlib, the last terrorist stronghold in Syria. The governorate is currently home to almost 70,000 rebel fighters and up to 2-3 million civilians.
On August 22, National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump John Bolton claimed that the Syrian government could be planning a chemical attack in the region, threatening to respond by attacking government forces in a "swift and appropriate manner" in the event of a chemical attack in Idlib or elsewhere in Syria.
For its part, the Russian Ministry of Defense raised the issue of possible chemical provocations in the terrorist-held region, which would be orchestrated to provoke a Western retaliation against Damascus.
Since the beginning of his presidency, Trump has authorized two missile strikes on Syria's Khan Sheikhoun and Douma under the pretext of unconfirmed reports accusing the Syrian government of the use of poisonous substances against civilians.
On August 28, Maj. Gen. Alexei Tsygankov, head of the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation, reported that the White Helmets group had delivered a "large shipment of toxic substances" to Ahrar al-Sham's warehouse in Idlib province.
Idlib: The Last Stand for Terrorists in Syria
"Idlib is the last stand for these terrorist groups in Syria," Sharp emphasized, commenting on the issue. "It's been their stronghold for years now, and after losing everything else, their back is against the wall and they're desperate to save themselves. That means resorting to the best trick in the book: a false-flag attack. We've seen it before in Khan Sheikhoun, and then again in Douma. It works like a charm: pretend to be under chemical attack by the government, and the West will swoop in to attack Syrian forces and save the terrorists. It's win-win for the militants."
"We know the West has interests they're trying to protect in Syria, and we know they're actively working with terrorist groups," he noted referring to the latest exposure of a militant group, "Lions of the East," which was reportedly trained by American instructors in a camp near the US military base in al-Tanf to conduct a series of terrorist attacks near Palmyra.
Sharp has drawn attention to the fact that the US's major bases in Al-Tanf and Al-Hasakah are located "strangely close to known terrorist safe havens." Furthermore, "the US has threatened to attack Syrian forces when they've tried to destroy the militant bases in those areas," he highlighted.
"Now, as Syria's government gears up to retake the final terrorist stronghold in Syria, we get word of another false-flag attack, and the US rushes warships and strategic bombers into the area," he presumed.
US Military Buildup in Mediterranean
It appears that the Pentagon is beefing up presence in the Mediterranean. The Russian Ministry of Defense earlier reported that the destroyer USS The Sullivans, armed with 56 cruise missiles, had arrived in the Persian Gulf, while a US В-1В bomber carrying 24 air-to-surface AGM-158 JASSM missiles had landed at Al Udeid air base in Qatar. In addition, the US Navy's Los Angeles-class submarine USS Newport News reportedly entered the port of Gibraltar on September 1.
"The terrorist forces have no chance against Syria's military-but the US does, so that's their last best hope," the American journalist noted. "The jihadists also have about 2 million civilians to use as hostages in the coming battle, and they'll definitely use that to their advantage. Judging from history, any civilians killed will be blamed on President Assad's forces-not the terrorists using them as human shields."
One of the White Helmets' 'Last Chances to Shine'
As for the notorious White Helmets, an NGO which has long been operating in terrorist-held areas, the potential chemical provocation would be one of the group's "last chances to shine," Sharp suggested.
"Since they only operate in terrorist-held areas, they won't have anywhere to run if Idlib falls. Some 800 have already been removed, leaving about 1,200 hiding somewhere, according to previous reports," the reporter underscored, referring to the rescue operation carried out by the Israeli military to take White Helmets operatives out of southern Syria.
Previously, the Trump administration had frozen and then partially released funding for the so-called humanitarian group. Anyway, the White Helmets are "not short of cash," Sharp noted: "The UK, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia" have all stepped in to fill the gap with millions of dollars in financing, he presumed.
"Wars need propaganda, and the White Helmets have been stellar at giving the West every excuse it needs to attack Syria without provocation," the journalist elaborated.
Why US and Its Allies Need 'a Divided Syria' With a 'Pro-Western Leader'
According to Sharp, the US and its allies want to see a divided Syria ruled by a pro-Western government which would allow them to maintain control over the country's resources. Apparently therefore, the recently-leaked UN document vowed "not to provide humanitarian aid until there's a deal to remove President Assad from power," the journalist remarked.
"It's a neocolonial tactic which can be seen playing out in Libya and Iraq, and leads to devastating consequences for that country's population," he warned. "Should the West succeed, we could expect to see slave markets start popping up in Syria as well-one of the freest and most democratic nations in the Middle East."
Regardless of Trump's promises to leave Syria as soon as possible, US General Joseph Dunford and earlier Secretary of Defense James Mattis have hinted at Washington's plans to stay "indefinitely" in Syria.
Having pledged to continue training "local armed groups" to operate as security forces, the US military officials said "they want to push forward with plans to let the Syrian people choose a leader who isn't Assad," Sharp stressed.
"And that, we all know, actually just means choosing a leader who will be a loyal accomplice to whatever the US wants to do in Syria," the journalist concluded.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.