Global powers are considering taking military action in Syria after a gas attack on civilians last week.

Has the time come for serious military action in Syria? The civil war in the Middle Eastern country has been going on for seven years now, with a conflict between the government of Bashar al-Assad and civilian opposition. For years the UN has been unable to take action in the region because any major campaigns are vetoed by Russia, who is a supporter of Assad’s regime. After a recent chemical attack allegedly orchestrated by al-Assad’s forces, the West is beginning to consider its options once again.

What happened in Syria? Last weekend there was a chemical attack carried out in Douma that injured 500 people and killed over 70, including families and children. Even though official samples haven’t provided results yet, based on descriptions and testimonials it appears that it was a sarine-like gas, which is internationally banned from warfare. While Syria was forced to destroy its chemical plants previously, it is widely assumed they still control a significant amount of sarine.

The most important response to the attack came, unsurprisingly, from the United States. President Trump stated multiple times that the US is ready to retaliate against the preposterous attack. In terms of its military capabilities, the United States has several navy destroyers in range of Syria which are armed with Tomahawk missiles, not to mention tools for aerial attack, as well as submarines.

Trump first spoke about a possible military attack on Assad’s forces on Wednesday, before he had a chance to consult with his top advisors. The rest of the US administrators have been careful with their word choice so far, not ruling out a military strike altogether, but definitely not sounding as certain of one as Trump does. Nevertheless, it should be noted that Trump has modified his response somewhat since his earlier tweets, as his administration is still deliberating their options. Further consultations have continued into the week, considering the best possible course of action. While Trump might be in a hurry to answer the poison gas attack, the US needs to be wary as Russia and Iran are supporters of Assad’s forces.

What could embolden the United States to follow through with an actual attack is tangible support from other countries. Most notably, the US is looking towards the United Kingdom and France as allies in the situation. The French President Macron has spoken of France’s intention to target chemical facilities in Syria, while UK PM Theresa May has stated that UK submarines are also about to move in range of possible target locations. According to May’s statements, military action must be taken in order to discourage the further use of chemical weapons.

An important part of the conflict right now is that Assad has denied any involvement in the chemical gas attack. France, on the other hand, claims they have proof that Assad’s regime is responsible, and these claims are backed by the United Kingdom. So not only is the UN dealing with an unclear situation, there are also many diplomatic concerns at the core of this issue, namely the US vs Russia potential conflict. Meanwhile, a special commission has been deployed in Syria to investigate the chemical attack, since there is an international ban on chemical warfare.