The Syrian government is frequently accused of the production and use of chemical weapons since the start of protests in 2011. The suspected use of chemical weapons is one of the serious issues that have attracted the interest of major powers in deeply divided corners. The Western powers, led by the U.S., are closely attentive to the crisis in Syria and have frequently accused the Assad regime of inflicting chemical attacks against civilians. To the West, chemical attacks at the hands of Assad prove that he has crossed the “red lines” of their respective national interests. Conversely, the Assad regime, backed by Russia and Iran, has denounced these allegations, claiming the “purported evidence of a chemical weapons attack was fabricated.”
On April 7, 2018, the Syrian government is suspected to have launched a chemical attack which resulted in the deaths of 70 civilians and injury of another 500, although it has been denied by Bashar Al Assad and his backing countries. President Donald J. Trump immediately reacted to the Douma chemical attack, seriously condemning it and announcing military retaliation.
Allies of the U.S. have welcomed Trump’s allegation and warned Assad’s regime too. However, Bashar Al Assad has stated the allegation of a chemical attack is “fake” and a “fabrication.” Similarly, the traditional U.S. rivals which support the Syrian regime, Russia and Iran, reacted by saying the chemical attack was not carried out by the Syrian government. Russia and Iran also warned the U.S that they would retaliate forcefully if a strike against Syria occurred.
Today, the U.S. and its allies undertook a missile attack on three suspected chemical weapon facilities in Syria in response to the recent chemical attack. The three areas targeted by the air strikes were “a scientific research centre near Damascus, a storage facility and command post also near the capital and a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs.” Over 100 missiles were launched against Syria in “a one-time shot.”
The Syrian regime itself reacted to the strike as “a threat to international peace and security.” Russia and Iran seriously oppose the strike and accuse the U.S and its allies of violating international law and aiming to destabilize the region. China also spoke out against the strike, considering it a transgression of international norms and calling for political settlement as the only way to resolve the Syrian issue.
Other world powers, like Turkey, Israel, and Germany, supported the strike. Turkey itself claims the strike was “appropriate.”
Many are of the opinion that today’s U.S-led, coordinated air strike shows that the West is serious in their stance against chemical weapons. However, this military choice, instead of a diplomatic one, is not a solution to the already complicated Syrian issue. Rather, analysis suggests that today’s air strike will further advance the issue, and that “[t]he complexity of the Syrian crisis, and the wider regional struggle for advantage remain a tinder-box.”
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