TEHRAN (FNA)- Two aircraft carriers stationed off the Syrian coast were sent back to the US this week in a move that the Obama administration thought would ease tensions, but angered Turkish officials who hoped for significant US military presence in the region.
The USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier and the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and its 2,500 marines were recalled after being stationed on the Syrian coast, allegedly in preparation for potential military invasion, RT reported.
The USS Eisenhower, which has the capacity to hold thousands of men, joined the other warship during the first week of December, ready to launch an American-led military intervention "within days" if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were to use chemical weapons against the opposition, Time reported. But as the violence escalated in the past few days, the warships took off and headed back to the US.
Given the mission of the warships, their leaving means that Washington is now assured that Syria does not have any chemical weapons.
Syria always stressed that it does not have a chemical stockpile. Syrian officials have also repeatedly said that their country would never use such weapons "even if they had them."
The US usually has two aircraft carriers stationed in the Persian Gulf at all times, but will only have one deployed this month - the USS John C. Stennis, which is stationed nowhere near Syria. By recalling the USS Eisenhower and the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, the US simply outraged its key ally in the region - Turkey.
An unnamed senior Turkish officer told Israel's DEBKAfile that America's removal of the aircraft carriers is "hard to understand and unacceptable to Ankara."
None of Syria's neighbors, which include Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Israel, have officially criticized the Obama administration for its recall of its naval forces, but unnamed officials told DEBKAfile that Turkish officials are very upset about the move.