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What Happened?

Witnesses, doctors and rescue workers said that a toxic substance spread after warplanes bombed the Syrian city between 6:30 and 7 a.m. — five hours before the Russian government says Syrian aircraft targeted insurgents. It is unclear how many attacks were carried out that day, or what time they occurred.

Where did it happen?

Russian officials, citing their own monitoring systems, say the Syrian airstrike hit weapons-storage facilities under the control of insurgents, including a “terrorist warehouse” where they were making “projectiles stuffed with chemical agents” to send to fighters in Iraq.

There is no independent evidence that a chemical weapons facility existed in that area. Several witnesses who described the early morning attack said a second airstrike hit a clinic treating victims.

Syria Chemical attack Map

Also, if a chemical weapons facility had been hit, the resulting explosion would most likely have caused the chemical to burn up, international weapons experts say. And a nerve agent like sarin is not likely to be stored in its active form in such a facility, and its components would need to be mixed to be lethal.

Who did it?

Russian officials say insurgents making chemical weapons in a facility destroyed by the Syrian airstrike are to blame. Russia’s deputy envoy to the United Nations said on Wednesday that Islamic militants fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad have used chemical weapons before, including chlorine, mustard gas and nerve agents, in Iraq and Syria. And he said insurgents used sarin on residents of a Damascus suburb in 2013.

Bashar Al-Assad, Current President of Syria

Western leaders including President Trump accused the Syrian government of being behind the fatal attack on Tuesday, and they called on Russia and Iran, Mr. Assad’s backers, to hold him accountable. Investigations by the United States and Western powers into the August 2013 chemical attack near Damascus that killed more than 1,400 people concluded that it had been carried out by the Syrian government

 

What followed?

Early Friday morning local time from warships in the eastern Mediterranean, the United States launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian government airfield near Homs, in retaliation for a Syrian chemical weapons attack earlier this week that killed dozens of civilians, including children.

The missiles were the first direct attack against President Bashar al-Assad over six years of Syria’s civil war, after years warnings over humanitarian abuses, including bombing hospitals and the use of sarin and chlorine gas

Retaliation

A Russian Warship was deployed towards the location where the US ships had fired the missiles from. A spokesperson for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov says US intervention in Russia has made a direct conflict between US and Russia highly likely.

What next?

There have been three clear acts of aggression in Syria and the battlefield is bi-partite; US and Russia. Everything depends on Putin now. His reaction to the scenario will define the future course of action and the fate of Syria and quite possibly the world.