Syria Daily: US, France, UK Consider Response to Assad’s Chemical Attacks

A young victim of the Assasd regime's chemical attacks on Douma, April 7, 2018

Signs that three powers cooperating on imminent military strike against Assad regime facility


THURSDAY FEATURES

The Chemical Attacks Near Damascus — An Open Source Review
Podcasts: The Impending Strike v. Assad’s Chemical Attacks — What Happens Next?


UPDATE 2000 GMT: The New York Times reports its findings on responsibility for the chemical attacks on Douma:

While much about the attack remains unclear, [our] review of more than 20 videos of its aftermath, an examination of flight records compiled by citizen observers, and interviews with a dozen residents, medics and rescue workers suggest that during a military push to break the will of Douma’s rebels, pro-government forces dropped charges bearing some kind of chemical compound that suffocated at least 43 people and left many more struggling to breathe.

“You imagine yourself on Judgment Day, and there is death all around you,” said Mr. Hanash, the student. “It was a scene that you don’t want anyone to have to see: old men, women and children screaming and suffering.”


The US, France, and UK continued on Wednesday to plan for a military response — but without taking — to the Assad regime’s chemical attacks near Damascus last Saturday.

Having suddenly shifted his position on Syria’s conflict after watching TV images of the victims, Donald Trump opened Wednesday with the Twitter message that US missiles are on the way to the regime’s military facilities — adding a message to his friend Vladimir Putin:

But Trump had not consulted advisors, so US officials spent the rest of the day reviewing plans and consulting with the British and French. A two-hour meeting was convened on Wednesday afternoon, which Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The French Government signaled a move toward action with the news that President Emmanuel Macron was reviewing military plans. UK Prime Minister Theresa May, facing calls to secure Parliamentary approval, took a firmer line. Reports in the morning said Britain wanted more intelligence from the US of the Assad regime’s responsibility, but in a speech later in the day May said “all the indications” are that the regime was responsible and that the use of chemical weapons “cannot go unchallenged.”

Speculation grew through the day that the three militaries would act overnight, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dampened it with the remarks that consultations over targets and with allies were ongoing. She assured, “The President holds Syria and Russia responsible for this chemical weapons attack.”

Defense Secretary Mattis said earlier in the day that the US was “still assessing the intelligence” on the chemical attack: “We stand ready to provide military options if they are appropriate as the President determined.”

In London, Prime Minister May will convene an emergency Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Related Posts

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

32 COMMENTS

    • But even if one Russian gets bruised, then Russia will destroy all the fleets and even invade Europe to teach the “jingoists” a lesson. (putting on my Andre hat – lol)

  1. As the Russians have warned, every one of those bombers will be a target the minute they fire a missile or drop a bomb on Syria. The US, Britain and France can’t do jack without commuting boots on the ground.

    China’s navy is headed for Syria to join Russia. The stakes are raised even further. May has not even put military action before parliament for a vote. So how badly does May and Trump want to risk nuclear war?

    • China has little interest in fighting over Syria. Russia can’t fight a war with the West. You are dreaming in Technicolor.

    • hahahahaha……feeling the pressure huh Andre? Russian will do what??? Mig taken down by the Turks…response zero. US in deirzzor taking out 200+russian mercs….response zero. XXXXth Israeli air raids in the past 3 years……response zero. And so on. Truth is that Russia’s only real weapon is threats. Full stop. As a matter of fact its ships in Tartous are fleeing the port away from harms way. The part of china’s navy headed to Syria you must have read it in some chocolate box.

    • Do you seriously think that the Russians will risk open confrontation with the US over a couple of Assad’s facilities? Consider that their own soldiers will most likely not be in the crossfire and Assad’s overall position won’t be seriously threatened. Does shooting down US planes and drawing them further in still sound like a smart idea, or is it an incredibly dumb one?

      • Do you seriously think that the Russians will risk open confrontation with the US over a couple of Assad’s facilities?

        The US has threatened to attack Russian facilities too so yes. After all, do you think the US would threaten open confrontation with the Russia over the alleged deaths of a few dozen Syrians government hat 10,000k were killed in the liberation of Mosul?

        Consider that their own soldiers will most likely not be in the crossfire and Assad’s overall position won’t be seriously threatened.

        If this turns out to be the same wet noodle the US threw at Shayrat last year then obviously not. The US and Russia are in crisis talks at the moment.

        Trump is under pressure to go big this time and inflict a decisive blow against Assad. France and Britain are also threatening to join the effort.

        • It won’t be the same wet noodle, as the last year’s bombing has proven to be inadequate for the purpose of deterrence. What follows is more ordnance on more targets. But it still isn’t regime-change. Russia’s war effort these last 3 years won’t be undone and it will still retain its Mediterranean port and client regime. Putin won’t throw that away for a few of Assad’s bases.

          “Do you think the US would threaten open confrontation with the Russia over the alleged deaths of a few dozen Syrians”

          1. It’s not a couple of dead Syrians that are the issue here; it’s the weapons used. Tell Assad to stick to maiming kids with barrel bombs and I guarantee you the international community will be perfectly fine with it.

          2. The US is not confronting Russia. Not militarily, which is what matters here. They’re confronting Assad. That would quickly change in a scenario where combat aircraft start falling from the sky.

          I sincerely doubt the Russians have been sitting these two days twiddling their thumbs. Communication channels exist, and unless the US mission explicitly includes dead Russians – and there’s nothing indicating that it does – they’d establish an understanding where Russia takes its troops out of harms way, while Assad receives the retaliation he so nicely asked for.

          • It won’t be the same wet noodle, as the last year’s bombing has proven to be inadequate for the purpose of deterrence.
            The deterrence argument is nothing but a smokescreen. Anyone with a brain knows that Assad had nothing to gain and everything to lose by this attack. It was staged to deny Assad victory.
            What follows is more ordnance on more targets. But it still isn’t regime-change.
            Give me a break. That is the one and only US goal in Syria. So much so that Kerry admitted ISIS would be useful to achieve it.
            Russia’s war effort these last 3 years won’t be undone and it will still retain its Mediterranean port and client regime. Putin won’t throw that away for a few of Assad’s bases.
            Again it remains to be seen. If the US attack is significant enough to weaken Assad and give support to opposition groups to resume fighting, it could be a repeat of Lybia. Russia is determined to prevent that from happening a second time.
            “Do you think the US would threaten open confrontation with the Russia over the alleged deaths of a few dozen Syrians”
            It’s not a couple of dead Syrians that are the issue here; it’s the weapons used.
            The US doesn’t give a crap about the weapons used. What is the difference between using chemical to kill people and conventional bombs? If you are suggesting the international community is happy to tolerate killing of civilians with barrel bombs but not chlorine, then that just goes to show how absurd this position is.
            2. The US is not confronting Russia. Not militarily, which is what matters here. They’re confronting Assad.
            Who are you truing to fool? The us has all but admitted this is a proxy war against Iran and Russia.
            I agree that there have been communications taking place. But at the end of the day, the Russians are not going to agree to US terms if they mean destroying Assad and every means he has to fight this war.

            • “Give me a break. That is the one and only US goal in Syria. So much so that Kerry admitted ISIS would be useful to achieve it.”

              Over 20 000 US airstrikes on IS positions. Sorry Andre, but Assad has nothing on the Islamic State’s anti-imperialist credentials.

              “Anyone with a brain knows that Assad had nothing to gain and everything to lose by this attack.”

              Nah, exposing the impotence of the international community definitely has its value. And – again – his losses won’t be that big either.

              “If you are suggesting the international community is happy to tolerate killing of civilians with barrel bombs but not chlorine, then that just goes to show how absurd this position is.”

              I don’t disagree.

              “The us has all but admitted this is a proxy war against Iran and Russia.”

              US is simply not trying then, considering its war goals are limited to keeping Assad and Iran on the western bank of the Euphrates. Quite successfully, might I add.

              Anyhow, this conversation can go on all week. Let’s see what the bombing brings.

              • Over 20 000 US airstrikes on IS positions.

                According to whom? Does that include the air strikes on SAA in DEir Ezzor which were followed by ISIS assaults on the SAA?


                Nah, exposing the impotence of the international community definitely has its value.

                Impotence with regard to alleged CW attacks? What about the impotence in the face of bombings in Yemen?

    • The actual headline of the article: “Syria ‘chemical attack’: France’s President Macron ‘has proof'”

      • Where’s the actual evidence of a chemical attack in Douma beyond what the Syrian-American Medical Society and the White Helmets, both linked to the opposition or to western governments, have put out (and since repeated by the WHO)? If Macron has “proof” that chlorine or some nerve agent was used, he should present it to the UN security council. No new information, or update on the alleged casualties, has come out since Douma was retaken. I’d like an honest reply rather than the usual censorship.

        • 1. Local doctors
          2. Local rescuers (not just White Helmets)
          3. Residents
          4. Citizen journalists
          5. Activists

          Multiple sources in each category.

          Oh, and to be clear, the SAMS and White Helmets reports have not been challenged on the basis of information as opposed to your general, ad hominem smearing of them.

  2. Already there are those claiming that the OPCW investigation will not find evidence of a chlorine or sarin attack because the Russians have cleaned up the evidence and the Syrian government has instructed the medics not to say anything incriminating or be executed. However, we should remember that the OPCW in its report on the Khan Sheiykoon incident last year stated the following that should have demonstrated that their conclusions were flawed : “the crater from which the sarin emanated was disturbed after the incident and subsequently filled with concrete. As such, the integrity of the scene was devalued.”

    • To be complete, it should be noted that the JIM took into account the disturbance of the crater and still concluded:

      “The expert analysis found that the characteristics of the crater were consistent with having been hit by a heavy object travelling at a high velocity, probably with a liquid fill. Any explosion from the burster charge would be small and, furthermore, the liquid surrounding the burster charge would have absorbed most of the energy from the explosion. The Mechanism notes that, based on the foregoing, the characteristics of the crater are more likely to have been caused by an aerial bomb with a small explosive charge, and that it probably contained liquid.”

Leave a Comment