As reports broke about what appears to be yet another chemical weapons attack carried out against civilians by Bashar al Assad’s Syrian regime, questions immediately began to rise about an American response. President Trump has already demonstrated a willingness to use kinetic force against Syrian assets believed to be responsible for chemical weapon attacks, and rhetoric from senior defense officials within his cabinet like Defense Secretary James Mattis has demonstrated no shift from that hard line in the months since.
Further, in statements made in the past few days, the United States has made it clear that, although Assad’s regime may have been responsible for the attack, it was made possible through Russia’s military and diplomatic support.
“The first thing we have to look at is why are chemical weapons still being used at all when Russia was the framework guarantor of removing all chemical weapons, and so working with our allies and partners from NATO to Qatar and elsewhere we are going to address this issue,” James Mattis told reporters on Sunday.
Even President Trump, who has been criticized for giving Russian President Vladimir Putin a wide berth in the past, cited the Russian leader by name in his condemnation of the attack on Twitter over the weekend, calling Assad an “animal” and Putin, along with Iran, responsible.