Tag Archives: Khan Sheikhoun

The Chlorine and the Bombs

Before the chlorine came the bombs. And before the bombs came the siege. Douma, the largest settlement in in eastern Ghouta, part of the surrounds of the Syrian capital, Damascus, had suffered greatly in the country’s civil war, which is in its eighth year.

Along with the rest of eastern Ghouta, Douma had been under siege for more than five years, its population cut off, unable to access medical supplies and food, unable to leave the area. For years, an outpost of opposition had remained a few miles from the seat of authority in Damascus, a reminder of the limits of the power of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the hereditary president. Continue reading

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Where Next for the West in Syria?

The United States and its allies, Britain and France, launched over 100 missiles at the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad in the early hours of 14 April. This was retaliation for the regime’s use of poison gas in the town of Douma, east of the capital, Damascus, exactly a week earlier, which massacred at least 43 people and wounded 500 more.

The military strikes were an important signal and will likely be some deterrent against the future use of chemical weapons, but ultimately this was another missed opportunity by the West to meaningfully affect the course of the war. Continue reading

‘Business as Usual’ Brutality

When something happens which is deeply necessary and long-awaited, it is all too easy, even briefly, to give in to relief.

So it was when, last Friday, Britain, France and the United States joined together to strike the regime of Bashar al-Assad in response to the regime’s probable use of chemical weapons on the besieged city of Douma, in Eastern Ghouta. Continue reading

New Rebel Coalition Joins Syria’s Splintering War

The Syrian Liberation Front (JTS), a newly formed insurgent coalition in northern Syria, was conceived in and exists for war.

Formed by an agreement between the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham and the more ideologically flexible Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, JTS was bolstered by defections from other, smaller Islamist factions. Continue reading

Facile Talk

In the ways statesmen and the nations they lead interact with the rest of the world, gestures can almost match actions in importance. This is why, when some politicians make gestures, they are greeted with the affirmation normally reserved for action. Continue reading

Splitting Hairs over Mass Murder

The past few days have brought a stark reminder.

Since the start of February, reports  have surfaced of several chemical attacks in Syria, apparently undertaken using chlorine gas. Among these, chlorine is said to have been used in Douma, in besieged East Ghouta, and Saraqeb, in Idlib province. Continue reading

Donald Trump’s Tomahawk Morality

When Donald Trump ordered the use of 59 Tomahawk missiles to strike a Syrian air base operated by the Assad regime, many observers were taken almost completely by surprise. There had been rumblings, no doubt, suggestions that, after the terrible chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib governorate, something might be done. But this was merely hinted at, mentioned in line with a range of possibilities. That was a demonstration that options had not been over-hastily removed from the table. Continue reading