US Considers Airstrikes in Response to Syria Chemical Attack

An alleged chemical attack in Syria on Saturday has sparked international outrage, including from the White House. Current movement of military personnel and materiel, as well as public comment, suggests that the Trump administration is considering airstrikes against key Syrian sites, and U.S. officials may be pressuring NATO to provide support.

It’s important to be aware that the White House cannot declare war; only Congress has that power. Furthermore, the United States currently lacks a Secretary of State, the leading cabinet member typically charged with diplomatic issues and conflict resolution. The nominee for the role, Mike Pompeo, has yet to undergo confirmation hearings and a Senate vote.

While the facts of the situation are difficult to ascertain due to blockades in the area, we do know that the Syrian government bombed the city of Douma — ostensibly to pressure rebel forces into leaving. Observers claim that the weapons included not just conventional munitions, but also at least two separate deliveries of chemical weapons.

Such weapons are banned by international law. In 2013, Syria signed the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997 after a sarin attack in Ghouta, which killed hundreds — and the government denied responsibility.

Witnesses of the most recent incident say they found bodies around two bombing sites with signs of death by chemical attack, including blue skin and foamy vomit. Roughly 500 people were also treated for symptoms resembling those of chemical exposure, and some observers report that they smelled chlorine. The estimated death toll is between 30 and 60 people, depending on sources.

The Syrian government and their ally Russia insist that this was not a chemical attack, but the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is sending a team to investigate. The Syrian government indicates that it will cooperate with the investigation, and Russia has also said it will assist.

In the aftermath of the attack, the United States pledged that “nothing is off the table.” Iran, the UK, Saudi Arabia and France have also spoken out. In addition, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres expressed outrage and indicated an intent to investigate.

Within 24 hours of the incident, a Syrian base was targeted with an airstrike that no one has claimed responsibility for — though sources generally agree that Israel was likely behind the attack.

The next move remains unclear. The situation in Syria has been deteriorating for some time, and the United States has previously used airstrikes in the region – most recently just over a year ago. While the president has made comments about “nice and new and ‘smart’” missiles coming Syria’s way, Russia has indicated that it will retaliate if the U.S. gets involved. Russia’s threats make any U.S. action in Syria potentially very complicated — and Russia is already angry about sanctions.

If you’re feeling helpless and not sure how to take action on this issue, it’s important to know that you are not without options! Take the time to call your elected officials to express your concerns. Remember that your representatives are the ones who would declare war, and they can apply pressure to the White House to ask that the commander-in-chief respect the Constitution.

Consider the larger problems in Syria, including the possibility of waiting for the investigation to conclude and working with international allies on a cooperative solution. Taking the time to speak from the heart helps your elected officials understand the concerns of their constituents.

Photo credit: Alisdare Hickson

65 comments

Marie W
Marie W7 months ago

Thank you

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DAVID f
Past Member about a year ago

Thanks

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Chad Anderson
Chad Andersonabout a year ago

Thank you.

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Angela J
Angela Jabout a year ago

Thanks

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vagaabout a year ago

noted

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Thomas Lindsey
Thomas Lindseyabout a year ago

To late King Trump just launched a missile strike against Syria, without Congressional approval (which is quite against the rules).

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Roberto MARINI
Roberto MARINIabout a year ago

thanks for sharing

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Brian F
Brian Fabout a year ago

MilleSiteProbs M The UN made a mistake in 1947, when it created the country of Israel. The Palestinians greatly outnumbered the Jews in 1900. The Jews were only 10% of the population in 1900, so taking over 50% of the land in 1947, and giving it to Israel, is unjustified. The Holocaust was a horrible event, but the Palestinians didn't cause it, and stealing their land, is not the solution. Israel illegally occupies the West Bank, and has an illegal blockade in Gaza. Gaza is an open sewer, and the people live in extreme poverty, thanks to Israel. The USA gives Israel 8 million dollars a day so it can oppress the Palestinians. So the USA is complicit in Israel's oppressive occupation of the Palestinians. The recent killing of 20 Palestinians by snipers is unacceptable. It's time for Israel to give the land it stole, back to the Palestinians, and stop oppressing the Palestinian people.

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Annabel B
Annabel Bediniabout a year ago

MilliSiteProbs M
By the way, sorry, you're right, Liliana Garcia first mentioned Israel/Palestine and you did say OFF TOPIC. I aplogise.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bediniabout a year ago

MilliSiteProbs M
Not up to you to decide or judge? OK, but can you ignore the many, many UN resolutions condemning Israel for expanding settlements BEYOND the 1967 borders? And the 6 day war was not waged against the Palestinians who do not have an army. Get your facts straight.

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