Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams via US Navy
On Saturday, April 7, about 500 citizens of the city of Douma, Syria reported symptoms that included burning eyes, breathing problems, and white foam coming from their mouths and noses. Adding to speculation of a probable chemical attack, residents said that they heard objects falling from the sky and smelled a scent resembling that of chlorine. Further, 43 out of 70 victims hiding in a basement exhibited signs of exposure to toxic chemicals, according to the World Health Organization.
The United States is still unsure of whether the attack was launched by the Syrian government itself or by groups in support of the government. The state news media in Syria denied that the government used chemical weapons and condemned a rebel group for allegedly fabricating the videos to gain international support. Syria’s allies, Russia and Iran, have also denied that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons; Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the chemical attack was staged by foreign agents. However, the United States and its allies believe that Syria did indeed launch a chemical attack.
Following the chemical attack, the United States and the United Kingdom released various statements regarding their planned responses.
On Wednesday, April 11, President Trump tweeted, “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!’”
Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the office of Prime Minister Theresa May said that cabinet ministers agreed that action was needed in Syria to “deter the further use of chemical weapons.”
On Saturday, April 14, the United States finally settled on its response, coordinating with Britain and France for a retaliatory missile strike.
President Trump commented, “I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.”
The countries targeted a scientific research center in Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility in Homs, and a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and command post in Homs. But, if Syria continues to use chemical weapons, this airstrike may not be the last.
Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN, said in an emergency UN Security Council meeting that President Trump told her the United States is “locked and loaded” if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons again.
With this sentiment from President Trump, the US has placed pressure on Syria to end its use of chemical weapons and will seek further action if Syria doesn’t comply with the ultimatum.
Sources: New York Times, BBC News, Twitter, CNN
Photo Source: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams via US Navy