Situation in Syria
By Brian Nowak
On April 3rd, a Sarin gas attack in Syria attack on the rebel-held town in Idlib killed more than 80 people. Thurkish experts investigating the attack presented autopsy results confirming Sarin gas was used in the attacks.
The United States has blamed Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and his government for the attacks, while Russia has maintained that Assad and the Syrian government could not be behind the attacks.
On April 11th, Russian President Vladimirt Putin, speaking beside Italian President Sergio Mattarella, suggested that evidence of gas attacks on the 3rd of April was “planted”: “We have information that a similar provocation is being prepared … in other parts of Syria including in the southern Damascus suburbs where they are planning to again plant some substance and accuse the Syrian authorities of using (chemical weapons).” Mattarella was in Moscow for talks with the Russian government.
An anonoymous US offical claims Russia had prior knowledge of the gas attacks, but did nothing to stop them. As evidence, the source cites a strike on a Syrian hospital, carried out by a Russian-built aircraft, just hours after the attack.
Syria and Russia use the same Russian-built aircraft in the region, so it’s not certain who carried out the reported bombing. The U.S. intelligence community has not reached consensus on whether Russia knew about the attack in advance, the officials said.
The Trump administration ordered a targeted military strike on the Syrian airfield that the United States says the Sarin attack was launched from. Over 50 Tomahawk missiles hit targets in the city of Homs with the intent of preventing future use of chemical weapons. Russian forces in the area were given 40 minutes notice to leave prior to the US bombing.
United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with the G7 countries on April 11th to discuss, among other items, potential sanctions against Russia. Brittian proposed sanctions on Russia as retribtuion for the gas attacks. Italy did not want to single out Russia and said the group would be better off with open dialouge. The G7 did not reach agreement on the proposal.
Secretary Tillerson insisted Syria’s president could not play a part in the country’s future and said “it’s clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end.” The US Secretary of State believes that Assad and the current Syrian government have “given up their claims to legitimacy” following the Sarin gas attacks.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif called for a “thorough and unbiased” investigation into the April 3rd incident in Idlib, Syria. Russia continues to defende the Syrian government, saying there is no evidence that the Syrian government carried out the gas attacks.