Syrian regime free to fight on without chemical weapons with greater US engagement ruled out

“Mission Accomplished!” tweeted Donald Trump, in an ill-chosen echo of George W Bush’s hubristic declaration of victory in the Iraq war. “Mission Accomplished?” ran the sceptical headline of the Gulf News, the Dubai-based newspaper, in a reflection of the mood across the Arab world at the modest scale of the western strikes delivered on Bashar al-Assad’s war machine.

Before the strikes, leading human rights campaigners in the Syrian opposition such as Fadel Abdul Ghany had said they wanted to see the west attack the entire Syrian air force, including all its airfields. His hopes were dashed.

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