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A Brief Timeline Of the Syrian Civil War Leading Up To U.S. Threats Of Military Strikes


Syrians are preparing for a possible U.S. attack, a response to an alleged chemical assault on civilians by Syria's government. Since that attack happened last weekend, President Trump has been threatening action, and his rhetoric got stronger today.


Just before 7 o'clock this morning, Trump tweeted this. Quote, "Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready, Russia, because they will be coming nice and new and smart." The tweet continues, "you shouldn't be partners with a gas killing animal who kills his people and enjoys it."

CORNISH: In this moment, there's a question of whether whatever happens next can really alter the course of a war that is now in its eighth year. Before we look at what could be ahead, we're going to take a moment to remember what has happened since 2011.


UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in Arabic).

KELLY: It was in March of 2011 that peaceful protests began in the Syrian city of Daraa. People were angry that schoolboys were arrested for painting antigovernment graffiti. The demonstrations grew for months until President Bashar al-Assad sent the military in to crush them.

CORNISH: The following month, President Obama released a statement condemning Syria's use of force. Over the next year, a civil war with hundreds of factions formed in rebellion.

KELLY: In August of 2012, President Obama said he would change his approach to Syria's war if chemical weapons came into play.


BARACK OBAMA: We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that's a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons.

KELLY: Then in August of 2013...


DAN ABRAMS: In Syria, hundreds more are dead, many of them children. But this time, it appears deadly chemical weapons were used.

KELLY: Hundreds of people suffocated to death overnight in a suburb of Damascus. The U.S. and its allies said Assad's government had used sarin gas.

CORNISH: But President Obama didn't strike. Instead, a deal was made with Syria to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile. The following year, 2014, the U.S. led an air campaign in Syria against ISIS. Then in 2015, Russia joined the war to support the Syrian regime.

KELLY: Two years later, President Trump was making his first decision about what to do about another chemical attack.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched.

CORNISH: Since the start of the Syrian war, more than half a million people have been killed. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.