War may or may not be coming. A military strike on Syria may or may not come. Russia may or may not retaliate if we strike. We don’t know for certain who launched the chemical attack in Syria and we don’t know what agent was used. But many demand we retaliate quickly.
A military strike might take place and be led by France. It will include Britain and the U.S.. The AP reports that British Prime Minister Theresa May has called an emergency cabinet meeting for today, while French President Emmanuel Macron is to decide on a response in the coming days, having insisted he does “not want an escalation” and that any response would focus on Syria’s chemical capabilities, not on allies of the regime.
One thing is fairly certain. If we do conduct a military strike, it will concentrate on chemical plants or airfields. Smart bombs will be used to reduce casualties.
Don’t go against the party line or you will end up like Tucker
When Tucker Carlson brought up the fact during his Tuesday night show that we don’t know for certain who launched the attack or what chemical was used, he was attacked as doing Putin’s bidding. He responded Wednesday evening.
When it comes to war, it’s important to listen to all sides.
We don’t know who launched the attack
We don’t know who struck the town in Eastern Ghouta and we don’t know if it was a nerve agent or chlorine gas. Russia and Syria deny they did it and blame the rebels. The facts don’t generally support their claims since they are the ones who benefitted the most.
Syria has been fighting terrorists for years and, after the chemical attack, they were able to take over Douma, a rebel stronghold, where the chemical attack took place.
However, the takeover was part of a deal made with the rebels. Rebels agreed to leave prior to the attack, and except for one militia, they had. The town is on the outskirts of Damascus.
The AP reports that more than 13,500 Syrian rebel fighters and their families left Douma this month under a so-called evacuation deal between the rebels and the Russian military. Another 1,500 left the town yesterday.
Was the attack to get rid of the last militia?
The type of agent used might not be a nerve agent like Sarin. It could be chlorine gas. That matters because the deal with Obama was to rid Syria of nerve agents. Chlorine gas was not included because it has a more limited range, but it has the same effect. It is important to note that prior attacks were attributed to sarin after tests were conducted.
According to the AP, the Russian army continued to deny their side’s latest victory came after Assad launched a chemical attack on the last rebel-held pocket of the enclave in the Damascus suburbs, instead accusing the White Helmets civil defense organization of staging the massacre.
Could it be staged to instigate the allies into attacking their enemies, the Russian and Syrian forces?
What Secretary Mattis says
In early-afternoon comments to reporters Wednesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was asked about the timing of a military strike on Syria. “We’re still assessing the intelligence, ourselves and our allies. We’re still working on this,” he said.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as well as CIA director Mike Pompeo huddled at the White House yesterday to discuss options and game out the situation. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says they are exploring options.
Militlary officials in Paris, London, and D.C. insist the bomb had been dropped from one of two Syrian government helicopters that had taken off from the Dumayr airbase north of Douma 30 minutes earlier, according to the Guardian. Its flight path was mapped. But local spotters in Douma had logged the arrival of two helicopters. Syrian and Russian planes had been flying bombing runs over the area since Friday night.
Russian troops entered the building in Eastern Ghouta where most people died and took photos of a large yellow cylinder on the roof. The photo was corroborated. An investigation is taking place since it could be the source.
The President’s tweets
The President tweeted Wednesday: “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!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”
The context is important. It was in response to a warning from Russia’s ambassador to Beirut, who took to a television network run by the armed group Hezbollah to declare that any U.S. missiles would be shot down “as well as the sources they were fired from”.
In other words, it’s saber rattling by both sides and clearly an appropriate response. He followed up the tweet with others complaining that the fake Russia-Trump probe and the Democrats have seriously harmed our relationship with Russia. The President suggested he wants improved relations with Russia, not war.
The President’s tweet on Thursday clarifies his current position. In his tweet, he says he never said an attack would take place and congratulates the administration for ridding the region of ISIS. [About 90% of ISIS has been defeated]
Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our “Thank you America?”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2018
We don’t know how many died.
NPR’s Ruth Sherlocke was told by the opposition that 42 people were killed. However, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is quoting a lower number. Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the organization, tells NPR it has documented 21 cases where people died “from suffocation,” and could not confirm the cause.
Doctors have said the symptoms presented by suspected victims of the attack are consistent with chlorine gas.
Meanwhile, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has said the Syrian and Russian governments have invited it to conduct a fact-finding mission on the ground in Syria to “establish facts surrounding the allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic.”
They will deploy quickly.
NPR quoted the foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova who stated that the “smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not the legitimate government” fighting them. They added that a missile strike could destroy evidence of chemical weapons.
Nerve Agent or Chemical Agent?
The Washington Post Writes that the chemical weapons program dates to the early 1970s. Their program was one of the largest in the world and included nerve agents [like VX and Sarin] and blister agents [like mustard gas].
Sarin was the most noteworthy and was developed and used by Hitler. It has no smell or taste but exposure leads to death through asphyxiation.
The Syrian government is believed to have used sarin on a number of occasions, including the 2017 Khan Sheikhoun assault, as well as attacks in 2013 — including one on the Damascus suburbs that is thought to have killed 1,429 people, according to a White House estimate
Separately, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has accused the Islamic State militant group of using mustard gas in attacks in Syria, according to WaPo.
Witnesses to this weekend’s bombings in Douma described a powerful smell of chlorine during the attack, but some also said that the effects of the gas appeared stronger than in previous such attacks.
Mohammed Marhoum, a medical worker, told The Post that he saw symptoms he had never seen before, including twitching, abnormal pupils and foaming at the mouth. “We believe the gas used was chlorine and another kind of gas,” he said.
Outside experts have said that the speed with which the victims died suggested that a nerve agent was used. Chlorine usually takes longer to work.
The Guardian reports that bodies are being smuggled out so it can be determined what agent was used.