On Saturday April 7th, dozens of people died in a chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma, Syria. Blood and urine samples from the attack tested positive for the use of chemical weapons.
The samples collected indicated the use of both chlorine gas and an unnamed nerve agent. Although U.S. officials weren’t 100% certain, they said they were confident with these findings as the Assad regime is known to have stocks of the nerve agent sarin, and has in the past used both sarin and chlorine gas in their attacks. Despite all of these findings, Russia and Syria both have denied any involvement in the attacks.
In response to the attacks, U.S. President, Donald Trump, alongside France and the United Kingdom, ordered the U.S. military to launch missile strikes on Syria, intending to hit sites “associated with the chemical weapons capabilities”.
On Saturday at the emergency meeting held by the U.N. Security Council, President Putin reiterated Russia’s belief that the chemical attack in Syria was a fake. Putin criticized the U.S. and its allies for launching the missile strike too soon after the attack without the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) sending their inspectors to verify the facts around the attack.
General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. and its allies struck multiple targets involved with Syria’s chemical weapons program. Dunford explained that the U.S. identified specific targets to limit civilian casualties, damage to unrelated structures, and “the risk of Russian forces being involved.”
In a series of tweets, Trump criticized both Russia and Iran, saying “[They] are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay.”
Trump’s decision to launch a military strike on Syria after a chemical attack is nothing new. Last year on April 6th, Trump launched multiple military strikes on Syrian airfields in response to attacks allegedly containing chlorine gas, as well as the nerve agent sarin.