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Ghouta was taken over by the regime forces but the war is still ongoing

The days between the chemical attack in Duma and the military response of the USA, Great Britain and France were full of tension. The western countries announced that they were preparing to attack and accused the regime of the President Bashar al-Assad of using the chemical weapons. On the other hand, Russia, which supports the Syrian government (together with Iran), recognized that the western countries used “fabricated explanations” and their military actions could lead to “serious consequences”. Especially, if even one Russian citizen suffered during the operation. Ultimately, the international crisis was avoided: Russia simply accused the United States and its allies of breaking the “norms and principles of international law” and that was all.

Ghouta and the chemical attack

On April 7, a chemical attack took place in the city of Duma, 10 kilometres from the capital city of Damascus, the largest in Ghouta region. Over 40 people were killed. According to Syrian opposition and the western countries, the one to blame was the Bashar al-Assad regime.

The tragic event triggered a fierce reaction from the US President Donald Trump. “Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria,” he wrote on Twitter. Trump added that Putin, Russia and Iran were responsible for supporting this “Assad the animal”.

A similar attack happened on April 4, 2017. The Syrian air force used chemical weapons against anti-government forces in Khan Shaykhun in Idlib Province. 72 hours later 59 Tomahawk missiles hit the al-Sharat air base.

Trump wants to show that he is different from Barack Obama and he treats seriously the so-called “red line”, which meant the use of the chemical weapons.

“Mission accomplished”

On the morning of April 14, the attack started. The missiles were launched from ships and submarines located in the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. The bombers also took part in the operation. 105 bombs were dropped. The United States, Great Britain and France participated in the attack. According to Pentagon representatives, three military facilities, where chemical weapons were produced, were the targets of the attack: one near Damascus and two to the west of Homs. The destruction of these centres was about to hamper the regime’s use of chemical weapons in the future.

– The three facilities are – or more appropriately, were – the fundamental components of the regime’s chemical weapons warfare infrastructure – Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff director, said at a news conference Saturday morning just after the attack.

The Barzah scientific research centre was attacked, where the regime forces were to research, develop and produce chemical and biological weapons. In turn, the missiles allegedly hit the chemical weapons depots near Homs. There were no reports on any victims of the attack.

President Trump wrote on Twitter that the mission was accomplished. Therefore, he provoked lots of comments about the United States having no strategy in Syria, acting chaotically and on an ad hoc basis.

A conflict without end

The chemical weapons attack in Duma took place during the offensive of government forces. As a result of the operation, the regime’s army overwhelmed the defence of the fighters after the siege lasting from mid-2013. A week later it gained total control over the region, mainly due to an agreement between the regime and the militants fighting in Ghouta. Some of them left to the Idlib Province, which is controlled by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist militant group associated with Al-Qaeda. In turn, the Bashar al-Assad regime made it possible for about 10,000 members of the Jaysh al-Islam, a key militia in Duma, to cross the regime’s area up to the “Euphrates Shield” in northern Syria. Jaysh al-Islam is one of the factions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Idlib Province and the territories controlled by the Kurds close to the “Euphrates Shield” are places of potential conflicts in future. A possible place of conflict is the city of Manbij, where Manbij Military Council holds power. It belongs to the Syrian Democratic Forces, supported by the United States and the international coalition.

The war in Syria began in 2011. Over 400,000 people were killed and more than 11 million – half of the country’s population, had to leave their homes.

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