On Monday, U.S. officials said they got intelligence forewarning a chemical strike by the Syrian military, and warned Assad that he would face consequences if the attack was carried out.
The lack of attack led U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to say that Syria had taken the U.S. warning seriously, though it’s unclear if the attack was imminent.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Russia, which backs the Syrian government in the civil war, warned the U.S. that it would fire back on U.S. interference with Assad. Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry said it would potentially target U.S. jets flying over certain parts of Syria. And a Russian jet did fly within 5 feet of a U.S. recon aircraft last week, which was perceived to be a warning.
Did the U.S. have intelligence of a coming chemical attack by Assad? How does our intel asses potential chemical attacks? And what’s happening with U.S.-Russia relations, via Syria?
Aaron David Miller, Vice President for New Initiatives at the Wilson Center and former advisor to Republican and Democratic Secretaries of State on Arab-Israeli negotiations, 1978-2003. He tweets @aarondmiller2