CNBC is reporting that Russian forces were given advance warning of last night’s impending military strike, as was Syria, to give both nations an opportunity to evacuate their personnel from the mostly deserted al-Shayrat airbase in Homs province. That means that the launch of those Tomahawk missiles, at a cost of about $70 million, was basically a very expensive fireworks show. Given the advance warning, it is hard to dismiss the possibility that the attack was not intended to seriously degrade Syria’s capacities, but rather was a means to appear decisive and dispute the Trump/Russia narrative here at home.
Now, it is being reported that Assad has been undeterred, and has today dropped bombs containing chlorine gas on Al-Qaboun, near Damascus. The chlorine gas strikes were reportedly part of a ferocious bombing campaign carried out on rebel positions by Assadi and Russian jets, striking in Idlib, Hama, and Daraa. Details are still coming in.