On Friday night, the United States joined Britain and France in bombing Syria. Targeting the Assad regime’s chemical warfare program, coalition forces launched over a hundred missiles, attacking storage and production facilities, along with a Damascus command center.
“I believe we took the heart of it out,” Lt. General Kenneth McKenzie said, referring to Syria’s chemical weapons warfare infrastructure.
As Saturday dawned, the Trump administration claimed success. However, McKenzie acknowledged that elements of the program probably remained, offering no guarantees that the Assad regime would be incapable of utilizing chemical weapons in the future. As the day carried on, neither the Trump administration nor America’s international allies provided a clear or unified message as to the likelihood or scope of future attacks — a dangerous and muddied message for a deeply complex geopolitical situation. Initially, President Trump announced a sustained military response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons. Hours later, Secretary of Defense James Mattis contradicted this stance.
“Right now, this is a one-time shot,” Mattis stated. “We have sent a clear message to Assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack.”