The U.S. strike in Syria failed to change anything

This week’s airstrike didn’t have much of a real impact.

This file photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows warplanes inside the Kweiras air base, east of Aleppo, Syria. CREDIT: SANA via AP Photos, File
This file photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows warplanes inside the Kweiras air base, east of Aleppo, Syria. CREDIT: SANA via AP Photos, File

In the aftermath of the United States’ decision to fire 59 missiles at an airbase in Syria on Thursday, not much has changed.

President Trump authorized the airstrike from his private club in Florida in response to a chemical weapons attack earlier this week that killed more than 80 people who breathed in poison that made them foam at the mouth.

Advertisement

U.S. officials said the strike was intended to make it harder for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to carry out future chemical attacks against his own citizens. But it didn’t accomplish that.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the air base targeted by the U.S. was back up and running with 24 hours. ABC News reports that two jets took off from the base on Friday and “carried out strikes on areas under ISIS control in the countryside of eastern Homs.”

And according to Washington Post reporting, the residents of Khan Sheikhoun — the Syrian town that was devastated by this week’s deadly chemical weapons attack—were bombed again on Saturday. Eyewitnesses said that at least one person was killed in that attack.

Residents of Khan Sheikhoun, described by the Post as a “ghost town” in the aftermath of the chemical attack, said the U.S. action didn’t do enough.

“Those attacks did not reduce the regime’s ability kill civilians. They can still commit massacres at any time,” Abdulrzzak Khattab, a Syrian resident who says his house was damaged on Saturday, told the Washington Post.

Advertisement

Shortly after news broke that Trump had authorized a strike targeting Assad, foreign policy experts warned it would have little effect.

“It doesn’t look like it will take out the airfield for very long… So then what?” James Joyner, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, told ThinkProgress on Friday. “It’s not clear to me what we achieved, other than a symbolic airstrike and looking like we are doing something.”

Several experts told ThinkProgress that Thursday’s strike reveals the Trump administration’s incoherent foreign policy strategy. President Trump has never articulated a clear policy vision for how the United States should respond to the ongoing conflict in Syria, and doesn’t appear to have a plan for how to follow up Thursday’s action. Analysts agree that the impact of a one-off attack against Assad will be limited.