With the region still reeling after last week’s US missile attacks on Syria, top administration officials continue to threaten further attacks against the Syrian military, with the White House saying President Trump retains the option to attack Syria whenever he thinks it’s “in the national interest.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis concurred, adding that any use of chemical weapons would draw US attacks against the Syrian government. The US claimed last week’s attacks were a response to an accused Syrian “gas attack” against rebel-held Idlib.
Since then, US officials have repeatedly talked up thew idea of further missile attacks against Syria, though at the same thing Mattis once again insisted today that US military policy in Syria is totally unchanged in the wake of the attacks.
That’s demonstrably untrue, of course, as Pentagon officials have confirmed changes inside Syria designed to protect US ground troops from potential retaliation, and have confirmed that US airstrikes against ISIS targets have decreased significantly since the attack, again fearing Syrian air defense will target the US warplanes as potential hostiles.
Officials have sent conflicting messages on their exact position on Syria since then, insisting that ISIS remains their “priority,” but continuing to pick fights with the Syrian government, and needle Russia in such a way as to greatly diminish the US ability to operate against ISIS.