The United States, with the combined forces of France and Britain, conducted a precision strike on Assad’s chemical weapons-capable facilities. The entire military action was over in a matter of minutes.
After President Trump’s Friday night announcement that U.S., French and British military forces have launched missile strikes against Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities in response to that nation’s recent deadly attack on its own citizens with poison gas, the world wonders: Will the American action spark a war between the U.S. and Russia?
CIA Director Mike Pompeo pointed out Thursday that the U.S. has already killed a large number of Russians in Syria. “A handful of weeks ago, the Russians met their match,” Pompeo said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination to become secretary of state. “A couple hundred Russians were killed.”
Pompeo’s comments are apparently the first public on-the-record confirmation by an American official that Russians died in a U.S. airstrike in February on pro-Syrian government forces in Deir al-Zour province. Members of the Russian military and Russian civilians are in Syria propping up the regime of dictator Bashar Assad.
Though there are plenty of questions regarding what comes next in Syria, there are few answers. The questions include:
· Will the U.S. bombing campaign against Syria continue? For how long?
· What does President Trump hope to accomplish with the attack he ordered?
· Will Russia shoot down – or at least attempt to shoot down – U.S. cruise missiles if there are new U.S. attacks into Syria?
· How would the U.S. respond if our missiles are downed by Russia?
· What would happen if U.S. missiles accidentally killed any additional Russian civilians and members of the Russian military in Syria supporting the Assad regime?
· Will Russian President Vladimir Putin order a counterattack against U.S. ships or aircraft conducting strikes against Syria?
· Will U.S. and Russian ground forces in Syria go into battle against each other?
· What happens if members of the U.S. military are killed in a Russian attack?
Hopefully, none of these things will happen. It would make sense for U.S. forces to give Russia a heads-up on possible targets and what we might be attacking to avoid killing more Russians.
Our forces would lose the element of surprise in an attack, but they’d lessen the chances of starting a U.S.-Russia war that in the worst-case scenario could turn into World War III.