Using his executive authority, President Donald Trump had twice ordered retaliatory strikes against Syrian government targets after over the use of chemical weapons. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has numerous times authorized the gassing of rebels and civilians fighting in the nation’s ongoing Civil War. In both instances, Russia released statements claiming that the chemical attacks were staged by the United States in order to justify military action against Assad. That narrative went on to gather steam on social media, in no small part thanks to Russia’s expertise in the realm of perception management.
Unfounded as those accusations were, if you approach each incident without context, you might be inclined to consider the possibilities presented by the slew of Russian officials offering talking points to credible-seeming news outlets, which are often owned by the Russian state. However, the United Nations (UN) recently provided an important bit of perspective regarding the use of internationally banned chemical weapons in Syria: it happens a lot more often than most Americans might think.
In fact, according to a new report by U.N. investigators, Assad’s Syrian regime has used chemical weapons in their Civil War no fewer than 33 times (for certain) since 2013, with at least six more incidents under investigation. If Russia posits that the United States staged the two latest attacks (including recent claims that America is planning to attack again), the question remains: how do they justify the other 31 times people were killed using weapons Russia claims to have overseen the disposal of?
Further, U.N. investigators went on to accuse Assad’s regime of launching “indiscriminate attacks” against noncombatants, which also constitutes a war crime.