Today occurred one of the deadliest attacks of chemical weapons the world has seen in years in Syria’s rebel-held Idib Province. Dozens of civilians are said to be dead, including women and children, and the final death toll has yet to be determined. Hundreds more are afflicted with illness and injury as a results of the gas attacks. The United States is currently blaming the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian patrons, and American officials are claiming this attack to be a war crime. The United Nations Security council has yet to be briefed on the attack.
This atrocity poses a policy dilemma for the Trump administration, for President Trump was wanting to shift the American focus in Syria to solely fighting the Islamic State. Removing Mr. Assad from power may need to become part of the US Middle Eastern military strategy somehow. However, spokesman of the White House Sean Spicer claims, “There is not a fundamental option of regime change as there has been in the past… What we need to do is to fundamentally do what we can to empower the people of Syria to find a different way.” Either way, the administration has shelved the idea of military cooperation with the Assad regime against ISIS.
The nature of this attack was different from the typical chlorine gas weapon, which tends to affect few and dissipate quickly. Accounts from witnesses and doctors and photo evidences of the conditions of survivors denote that these are symptoms caused by banned toxins and nerve agents. Many people previously unaffected are becoming sickened themselves simply by coming into contact with those affected. The director of the health department in Idlib made the following statement: “The world knows and is aware of what’s happening in Syria, and we are ready to submit evidence to criminal laboratories to prove the use of these gases.”
It will be important to stay informed during the political and humanitarian aftermath of this attack, for this event may be a catalyst for a new anti-Assad effort internationally and may determine what the next military steps of the Trump administration will be.
Read more here.