Who was responsible for the attack in Syria using chemical weapons? And why were chemical weapons introduced?
The President Trump and the United States have blamed the Syrian government, and launched a missile attack on a Syrian airfield and have warned the US is “prepared to do more.”
US missile strikes on a Syrian air base have reportedly killed nine civilians – including four children – as Donald Trump launched the first direct American attack on Bashar Assad’s regime.
Four children are reported to be among nine civilians killed in the “targeted assault” on the air base, from where Mr Trump said a devastating nerve agent strike was launched earlier this week. Six servicemen are believed to have also been killed.
Mr Trump was reacting to the attack on Tuesday that killed at least 72 people, including 20 children, which he said was launched by Syrian president Assad.
Why would Assad use a nerve gas, knowing that it would be internationally condemned, and would risk an unpredictable reaction from President Trump. It was certain to complicate an already very messy multi-country situation in Syria.
Trump ordered a missile strike, and it seems to have provoked the Russians
Russia called the attack an “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law”, with President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman saying he believed the US had carried out the strikes under a “far-fetched pretext”.
Vladimir Safronkov, the deputy Russian ambassador to the UN, accused Britain of “colonial hypocrisy” in supporting the US air strikes, and said the rational was based on “lies”.
He warned Britain: “don’t get into fights in the Arab world”, and accused the US of “facilitating terrorism”.
Russia has diverted a warship to protect the Syrian coast and vowed to bolster Bashar al-Assad’s missile defences against more US strikes, risking a confrontation between the former Cold World foes.
The Kremlin also announced it was immediately suspending its air safety agreement with the US in response to missile strikes on a Syrian air base.
The memorandum, signed in October 2015, is designed to avoid clashes in the crowded airspace over Syria, with each side giving the other warning over planned strikes.
So that raises risks of escalation.
Mr Assad’s office denounced US strikes as a “rash” action, describing the attack as “reckless, irresponsible behaviour” and that Washington was “naively dragged in by a false propaganda campaign”.
Has Trump been sucked in to the Syrian attack? If so by whom?
There are three certainties in war, death, destruction and propaganda. And a fourth – mistakes.
There are reports emerging suggestion at least some Russian responsibility for the chemical attack, and possibly complicity.
Senior US military officials say the Pentagon is looking into whether Russia participated in the Syrian chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town, according to the Associated Press.
A drone belonging either to Russia or Syria was seen hovering over the site of the chemical weapons attack Tuesday after it happened, the officials told The AP.
The unmanned aerial vehicle returned later in the day as people sought treatment at a local hospital, which was bombed a short time later.
The officials say they believe the hospital strike may have been an effort to cover up evidence of the chemical weapons attack.
A Syrian Air Force Su-22 warplane was monitored dropping a chemical weapons bomb that landed in Khan Sheikhun, where 86 people were killed, including 28 children, The Washington Examiner reported.
Two officials who briefed reporters at the Pentagon Friday said the US had no evidence of Russian complicity, but that any leads would be followed up.
“Any implication or lead that would indicate Russian involvement, we’ll investigate that lead,” one official said, the paper reported.
The officials said Russia has failed to control the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons.
Russia may or may not have been directly involved, but the fact that it is being reported that the Pentagon is investigating will increase tensions between the US and Russia even more.
Whoever used the gas in an attack in Syria will have known there was likely to be serious consequences and most likely an escalation of an already very messy and high tension situation.
International brinkmanship and war often has unintended consequences, and high-ego leaders often start down paths that they won’t reconsider, at least not until serious damage has been done.
A few Syrian kids getting gassed may be a relatively minor consequence of this escalation.
During last year’s presidential campaign Donald Trump was asked if he could “look children aged five, eight, ten, in the face and tell them they can’t go to school here”.
He responded: “I can look in their faces and say ‘You can’t come’. I’ll look them in the face.”
He looked into dead children’s faces a few days ago and used that horror as a reason to actively involve the US in the Syrian war.
He won’t get to look most of the children that die as a result of this. Neither will Assad. Nor Putin.
It seems certain that someone, whether it was Assad or Putin or one of their opponents, used the gas attack to deliberately provoke Trump, and it got a result. But that was just one short battle in what has already been a lengthy war. And it could get worse. Possibly a lot worse.
It was fairly obvious that Trump would be easily provoked. He has already proven to be an unpredictable reactionary irrational egomaniac.
Does it matter now who sucked trump into Syria? The fact is it has happened. Now the Middle east and possibly the world has to live with the consequences.
But not everyone – how many children won’t get to live to see how bad it gets?