With the UN in deadlock over the suspected chemical attack in Syria, the diplomatic option for US President Donald Trump’s “forceful response” appears to have disappeared. Targeted economic sanctions against Syria and its allies, Iran and Russia could still be used.
Trump and Western allies are now discussing possible military action to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected poison gas attack on Saturday on a rebel-held town that long had held out against government forces.
— Department of State (@StateDept) April 9, 2018
A unilateral military strike like the one ordered last year from US navy ships in the Mediterranean on a Syrian airbase is a possibility but France and the UK could be involved this time according to Robert Burns, Associated Press’ National Security expert.
“Part of the question that is sort of hanging out there is what would really be the underlying goal of a strike other than to simply be shown to be responding? Would it actually accomplish something militarily or politically or would it make more sense to include other coalition members, other allied countries, like France as part of an operation, or should it be unilateral like it was a year ago,” said Burns.
— VoteVets (@votevets) April 11, 2018
Trump said that he would make a decision about how to respond within a few days, adding that the United States had “a lot of options militarily” on Syria. Assad’s government and Russia have said there was no evidence a gas attack had taken place and that the claim was bogus.
In the meantime members of the chemical weapons watchdog the OPCW are preparing to visit the site of the suspected attack to determine if chemicals were used but not to assign blame.