Welcome to our weekly summary of Syria Deeply’s coverage of the crisis in Syria.
U.S. Strikes Assad: The United States fired 59 cruise missiles on the Shayrat airfield in Homs province early on Friday. President Donald Trump said the Syrian government airbase had been used to launch a deadly chemical weapons attack on rebel-held Idlib earlier this week.
Despite the Pentagon’s claim that the U.S. warned Russia prior to the strike, the move damaged relations between Washington and Moscow, according to President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, who said the attack was “aggression against a sovereign nation” on a “made-up pretext.”
U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson said the strike should not be taken as a change in U.S. policy in Syria “or our posture relative to our military activities in Syria today.”
Khan Sheikhoun: A suspected chemical weapon attack in Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday killed at least 87 people. One doctor who treated victims of the alleged attack said that his critical patients exhibited signs of exposure to a nerve agent, particularly Sarin gas.
The alleged chemical attack in Idlib province sparked worldwide outrage and prompted the first direct U.S. military strike against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said that the international community must come to the conclusion that “war crimes are going on in Syria.”
On Friday, air raids reportedly hit Khan Sheikhoun again. There is no information on casualties yet, nor is it clear whether the planes were Russian or Syrian.
Syrian government warplanes hit Eastern Ghouta, the last rebel enclave in the Damascus suburbs, this week. At least 22 people were killed in airstrikes on various towns in the area – with the highest number of victims in Douma – on Monday and at least another 18 people, including five children, were killed in raids on the town of Saqba on Wednesday.
Donors Conference: International donors met in Brussels on Tuesday for a two-day conference aimed at supporting the future of Syria. The United Nations appealed to donors from the E.U. and Gulf countries to reach their pledge goal of $8 billion; however, the conference ended on Wednesday with a $6 billion pledge. Last year’s conference in London raised $11 billion.