Defense Minister understands U.S. military action in Syria

Minister Ank Bijleveld of Defense understands why the United States is threatening military action in Syria following what is believed to be a poison gas attack in Douma. "If diplomatic, economical and political measures are insufficient, the Netherlands understands a proportional military action in Syria", she said to Nieuwsuur. 

The United States and several other countries are convinced that the Syrian army used a chemical weapon in Douma on Saturday to try to drive out rebels, according to NOS. Russia is an ally of Syrian president Assad. Russia used its veto power in the UN Security Council to block an investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Douma. The U.S. and its allies were diametrically opposed to Russia. This conflict resulted in American president Donald Trump tweeting: "Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart'!"

Bijleveld spoke to her American colleague James Mattis in the Pentagon and understood from him that the Americans are still exploring the best response to the suspected gas attack. "Everything is still open. That means that diplomatic, economic and political measures will first be discussed", Bijleveld said to Nieuwsuur. 

She regrets that Russia used its veto to block the investigation into the attack. "It's a complicated and complex situation that requires a political solution. The escalation between the U.S. and Russia is worrisome", Bijleveld said. She added that she would not have chosen the harsh language Trump used on the topic. "My colleague Mattis has a different tone."

Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs also criticized Trump's tone. "It's really inappropriate", he said to NOS. Blok would like to see the United Nations get access to Douma, and for a cease-fie to be called as soon as possible. "It's terribly dramatic what is happening there. The situation is worrisome."