Home Global Village Trump to decide soon whether to retaliate for chemical attacks in Syria

Trump to decide soon whether to retaliate for chemical attacks in Syria

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News Analysis |

President Trump said Monday that he might seek to hold accountable not just Syria but its patrons in Russia and Iran for a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of people outside Damascus over the weekend, a move that could widen a geopolitical conflict already roiling the Middle East.

Mr. Trump seemed intent on ‘punishing’ Syria and its allies, although it isn’t clear how this could be done by the incumbent US administration.  “If it’s Russia, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out and we’ll know the answers quite soon,” he told reporters at the opening of a cabinet meeting. “So we’re looking at that very strongly and very seriously”, he added.

This jingoism of Donald Trump is in stark contrast to his rhetoric only days ago where he hinted on pulling the American troops out of Syria. Mr. Trump said he wanted to pull American troops out of Syria and “let the other people take care of it now”.

President Trump also stated that Russia will also bear the price for its support of the beleaguered Syrian President Assad. “He may, and if he does, it’s going to be very tough, very tough,” Mr. Trump said. “Everybody’s going to pay a price. He will, everybody will.”

This jingoism of Donald Trump is in stark contrast to his rhetoric only days ago where he hinted on pulling the American troops out of Syria. Mr. Trump said he wanted to pull American troops out of Syria and “let the other people take care of it now”.

Read more: Trump and his generals lock horns over Syria

Trump now faces a challenge on how to ‘punish’ those responsible for the alleged chemical attacks near Syrian Capital. A missile attack was launched on a Syrian airfield last year which was suspected of being a launch site of another chemical attack on Syrian civilians late last year. However, that attack failed to deter Assad or his allies and did not make any difference on the Syrian military’s capabilities.

While the airstrikes on Syrian and Iranian forces on ground cannot be ruled out, an American strike on Russian ‘assets’ in Syria is simply impossible.  The president could consider a range of other options to hold Moscow responsible, including further economic sanctions or diplomatic isolation.


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