Amid speculation that President Barack Obama is considering military options to help end the Syria crisis, according to sources Washington has asked Athens, a NATO ally, to provide permission for US military ships and aircraft to pass through Greek territory as well as use of the Souda Bay and Kalamata military bases.
The allied presence in the southeastern Mediterranean region is reportedly larger than usual, which some analysts suggest indicates a decision for military intervention has already been made following the August 21 mass gassing of civilians by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
France and Germany, which refused to support the 2003 Iraq invasion, suggested Monday that they may take part. Russia claims any such intervention would violate international law.
Greece contributed to NATO’s 2011 operation in Libya, using its air and naval assets and providing its main bases. Meanwhile, Ankara’s political involvement in the Syria crisis has made the allies skeptical about using Turkish military bases and passage routes.
However, Greek officials have ruled out the possibility of active military involvement. They say the armed forces would only be mobilized in a bid to remove Greek nationals from the area in the event of all-out war.
In a statement issued following a meeting under Evangelos Venizelos Monday, the ministry condemned the attack on the convoy of a UN team of experts sent to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in Damascus as “totally unacceptable and provocative.” Venizelos is to visit Egypt on September 5, officials said.