On the heels of President Trump’s airstrikes against the Syrian regime, Russian president Vladimir Putin condemned the U.S., Britain, and France for their joint operation, calling the strikes an “act of aggression” and a “destructive influence on the entire system of international relations.”
In a post to Twitter, Russian officials called the strikes “treacherous and insane” and a “clear and present danger to world peace.”
Amid the bluster and outrage coming from Russia and its proxies in Syria, it seems as though the airstrikes’ were much ado about nothing. According to a report from Reuters, the Syrian government and its allies have “absorbed” the attack thanks to a warning from Russia.
“We have absorbed the strike,” a senior official in a regional alliance that backs Damascus told Reuters.
“We had an early warning of the strike from the Russians … and all military bases were evacuated a few days ago,” the official said.
Three targets were hit by Friday’s joint airstrikes, which included a scientific research center in Damascus, an alleged chemical weapons storage facility, and a “command post.” But the effectiveness of the attacks is up for debate. Writing for Axios, Richard Haas says that the strikes were “not intended to unseat the Assad regime or directly protect the Syrian people” and purposely “took care not to engage [Russian or Iranian forces] directly.”
There is no reason to expect further military action absent additional use of chemical weapons by Assad. The president did not say how long U.S. forces might remain in Syria but reiterated his desire to bring home those troops. Ultimately, the strikes shed little new light on the future of U.S. policy toward Syria.
In other words, it was just for show.
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