Friday evening at 9:00 pm Eastern Standard Time, the United States, France, and Britain carried out precision missile strikes in Syria in order to punish Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government for an alleged chemical weapons attack on April 7 in Douma, Syria. The chemical attack appears to have killed up to 45 people and the coalition forces claim to have irrefutable evidence that the Assad regime was responsible.
President Trump referred to the strike as a “combined operation” with European allies, France and the United Kingdom. Defense Secretary General James Mattis stated that three locations were targeted and destroyed in a heavy attack which was coordinated in a manner as to avoid collateral damage. The strike was deliberately limited in scope as to avoid casualties to Syrian civilians and Russian military personnel.
It has been confirmed that missiles were launched from warships located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea as well as U.S. Air Force B-1 bombers which flew out of Qatar.
Defense Secretary General James Mattis stated the offensive was a one-off strike in which no follow up attacks would be pursued. At the time this piece was written there were no reports of casualties nor have there been reports of any chemical plumes endangering surrounding air qualities.
“Clearly the Assad regime did not get the message last year,” proclaimed Mattis. “This time our allies and we have struck harder,” he added. U.S. officials stated Friday’s airstrikes were geared towards three targets and twice the size as the airstrikes carried out last year, which targeted a single target.
The attack was condemned by the Assad regime and its allies, Russia and Iran. “Russia condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack against Syria, where Russian military personnel are assisting the legitimate government in its counterterrorism efforts,” read Vladimir Putin’s statement. The Russian president called coalition strikes, “an act of aggression” which had “destructive influence on the entire system of international relations and will exacerbate humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.”
President Trump stated that the United States is prepared to continue economic, diplomatic, and military measures in order to thwart the Assad regime from continuing a criminal pattern of killing its own people with weapons banned through the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The CWC is a multilateral treaty which bans chemical weapons outright and requires the destruction of any remaining stockpiles within a specific period of time. The CWC is stronger than the Geneva Convention as it prohibits the research, production, storage, and usage of chemical weapons. The Geneva Convention merely made it illegal to utilize chemical weapons however, it allowed for the research, production, and storage of chemical weapons.
French President Emmanuel Macron claimed the operation was specifically targeting Syria’s “clandestine chemical arsenal.”
“We cannot tolerate the trivialization of chemical weapons, which is an immediate danger for the Syrian people and our collective society. This is the direction of the diplomatic initiatives put forward by France at the United Nations Security Council,” said Macron.
British Prime Minister Theresa May stated she, “authorized British armed forces to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use.”
“The Syrian regime has a history of using chemical weapons against its own people in the most cruel and abhorrent way,” said the Prime Minister. “This is not about intervening in the civil war. It is not about regime change. It is about a limited targeted strike that does not further escalate tensions in the region and that does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties. And while this action is specifically about deterring the Syrian regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity,” said Prime Minister May.
U.S. General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that the United States did not coordinate targets with nor did they notify the Russian government. Normal airspace de-confliction communication channels were utilized before the attack and resumed normal usage after the attack was completed.
General Dunford stated the missiles were first directed towards a scientific research center located in Damascus. This facility was thought to have been the center of Syrian research, development, production, and testing of chemical and biological warfare.
The second target was identified as a chemical weapons storage facility located west of Homs. This facility was believed to be the main site of Syria’s sarin gas arsenal as well as a storage depot for equipment previously used to manufacture chemical weapons.
The third and final target acted as a chemical weapons storage depot which doubled as a significant military command post, which was located west of Homs.
This was the only retaliation against Syria with regard to the April 7 chemical weapons attack in Douma. Many have speculated that Israel launched an offensive in retaliation for the chemical attack in Douma however, it has been revealed their attack was in retaliation against Iran.
Israel claims Iran attempted to fly an attack drone loaded with explosives into their airspace, which an Israeli attack helicopter shot down with a missile. After an inspection, Israeli intelligence services concluded the drone was loaded with explosives and was meant to attack. Israel subsequently carried out an attack on the T-4 airbase, the airfield from which the drone was launched from.
As the dust settles in Syria, political pundits in the United States have already begun their attempts at spinning this into their political favor. Some liberals are actually claiming President Trump carried out this attack as a way to distract from James Comey’s gossip girl book, which mainly focuses around petty insults about Donald Trump’s appearance and behavior. In order to believe this theory, one would have to assume that the United Kingdom and France had a vested interest in President Trump creating a distraction from matters they have no involvement in. In other words, you would have to be wearing tinfoil on your head while counting imaginary black helicopters in order to believe this conspiracy theory. This is the conspiracy theory that the “Resist” movement seems to have embraced as of Saturday morning.
You will be hearing the following coming from some in the conservative movement: “There have been over 45,000 people killed by conventional weapons in the Syrian civil war. Why carry out this attack when 45 people are killed with chemical weapons?”
This is not a valid argument. Anyone defending this argument doesn’t realize the slippery slope that would inevitably occur if the United States and/or coalition forces did not retaliate against those who utilize chemical warfare. The fact that the Assad regime is willing to take these measures against their own people should be a clear indication that they would not hesitate to use them against the United States and or allies.
If we did not to act, we can be sure that chemical weapons would become a normal means of attack in the Middle East, which promotes further proliferation of chemical weapons. Further proliferation of chemical warfare would increase the likelihood that it could fall into the hands of jihadist that are bent on attacking the United States.
By attacking Syria’s chemical weapons depots, we are able to send a clear message with regard to our moral stance on the usage of chemical warfare while destroying their capabilities to carry out further chemical attacks that violate international laws. We cannot be sure of the Russian response in the coming days however, no major retaliation seems to be in the works as Russian air defense systems were not employed as the attack was carried out. Syrian air defense systems did respond but had zero impact in deterring the attack.
Defense Secretary General James Mattis claims to have seen irrefutable evidence which clearly illustrates that the Assad regime was behind the chemical attack in Doumas, Syria on April 7. Both France and the United Kingdom claim to have substantial intelligence that points to the Assad regime as the aggressor in the Doumas chemical attack. Of course, much of this evidence is still considered classified and has yet to be publically released.
Neither Russia nor Syria has offered any evidence to support their denials of the chemical attack in Doumas and have refused to allow independent investigators into the area to make that determination. Their denials to allow inspectors to investigate the area should serve as evidence in and of its self and further denials should be met with extreme prejudice.
Syria claimed to have destroyed their chemical weapons stockpiles, which was supposedly overseen by Russia. This is not a scenario that can be allowed to happen again. We must make it clear that independent investigators must be the ones making assessments in Syria as Russia has already displayed their failure in following through with their promises.