The western powers may bomb, but they still lack a coherent strategy for toppling Assad

The limited, short-lived US, British and French missile strikes in Syria yesterday are unlikely to have a lasting impact on the course or the conduct of the civil war. Indeed, Syrian opposition figures fear the small scale on which they were conducted may even encourage Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, to prosecute the conflict with an enhanced sense of impunity. These  attacks were not intended to overthrow the regime or to degrade Syria’s conventional military capabilities or those of its principal allies, Russia and Iran. Their purpose, according to Donald Trump and Theresa May, was to deter future chemical weapons-related atrocities similar to that in Douma last weekend, which killed dozens of civilians and sparked the current crisis.

The Observer is the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, founded in 1791. It is published by Guardian News & Media and is editorially independent.

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Read More The Observer view on the Syria missile strikes | Observer editorial

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