The joint air strikes by the US, the UK and France on chemical weapons research and production facilities in war-torn Syria were described as a legitimate one-time shot by the Western powers and denounced as an act of aggression and a violation of international law by Damascus, Moscow and Tehran. The West claimed its strikes had sufficient effect and significantly degraded the Syrian regime’s ability to use chemical weapons and Donald Trump tweeted mission accomplished, but Syria countered it saying most of the missiles were intercepted and shot down. With zero casualty — a great consolation — it looked like a face-saving and message-sending operation.
The West’s claim cannot be taken at face value as its earlier claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion turned out to be untrue. The pro-Assad and anti-West demonstrations in Damascus and other parts of Syria following the strikes demonstrated the strength of defiance and ruled out the overthrow of Assad by the West for all its military superiority. The seven-year Syrian war represents a human catastrophe of enormous proportions. The loss of life and suffering are too tremendous to be put in words. The revival of a political process by diplomatic means for a solution without compromising Syrians’ self-determination and self-rule is the only way forward.
G David Milton