By ISW Syria Team and Syria Direct
U.S. President Donald Trump demonstrated a new willingness to use force against the regime after conducting cruise missile strike targeting the Shayrat Airbase in Central Syria on April 6. The strikes came in response to the regime’s use of sarin gas against the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Northern Syria on April 4 that marked one of its deadliest chemical weapons attacks since the 2013 Sarin Attacks in Damascus. The U.S. attempted to leverage its limited strikes against the regime to force Russia to reveal the extent of its commitment to Iran and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Kremlin rejected calls to distance itself from Assad after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 13. Russia also vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution outlining an investigation into the regime’s culpability for chemical weapons attacks. The White House nonetheless also messaged continuity in its military stance towards the Syrian Civil War. Tillerson noted in an interview on April 11 that the “first priority” remains the defeat of ISIS in Syria and warned against “violent regime change” similar to Libya. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis also stated that the “military policy in Syria has not changed” and stressed that the “rest of the campaign stays on track…exactly as it was before” the chemical weapons attack.
These graphics mark the latest installment of our Syria SITREP Map made possible through a partnership between the Institute for the Study of War and Syria Direct. The graphic depicts significant recent developments in the Syrian Civil War. The control of terrain represented on the graphic is accurate as of April 3, 2017.