The Syrian Civil War grows ever more violent with outside forces stepping in again and adding to the body count. On Sunday, a chemical attack on Syrian civilians in the rebel-held town of Ghouta killed over 70 people through a barrel bomb (likely containing the nerve agent Sarin), and the M.O. fits the same pattern generally taken by Syrian Bashar al-Assad’s forces before he calls attacks “fabrications” despite all photographic evidence. Overnight, a responsive airstrike hit a Syrian airbase, killing at least 14 people (likely including Iranians), and now Syria and its main ally, Russia, are pointing fingers, and the U.S. is confirming that the finger pointing is accurate.
It must be noted that these reports concern the same Syrian airbase that was hit by a Trump missile strike in April 2017 in response to another chemical attack on Syrian civilians by pro-government forces. In addition, Trump vowed on Sunday that there would be a “big price to pay.” Reuters now reports that Israel is being accused of the new airstrike, and NBC News reports confirmation from the U.S. on the retaliatory strike:
Israel carried out air strikes against a Syrian air base early Monday morning and informed the U.S. in advance, two U.S. officials told NBC News.
The pre-dawn missile attack came hours after a deadly suspected poison gas attack on the last remaining foothold for rebels fighting the Assad regime.
Of course, the increasingly convoluted nature of this story illustrates just how complicated the Syrian conflict has grown. Syria is being aided by Iranian forces in many endeavors, and on Sunday, the U.S. called Russia “ultimately” responsible for this latest chemical attack, which hails back to Russia’s failure as guarantor in holding Syria to its 2013 agreement to destroy its chemical weapons. And now, the U.S. and Israel have both carried out retaliatory airstrikes after Assad’s forces have attacked his people.
Whether or not Trump’s aforementioned warning of a “big price” against “Animal Assad” will result in more military action, we’ll likely find out soon. And as with Trump’s last missile strike, any U.S. intervention will likely include another joint Russia-Iranian threat against the U.S.