BuzzFeed reports: The military options range from striking the Syrian air force to targeting specific Syrian military targets. The Pentagon on Thursday afternoon was presenting options through a series of exchanges with the White House, rather than through formal meetings.
US radar showed Syrian aircraft in the area at the time of the chemical attack. Tuesday’s strike was believed to have been launched from Syria’s Al-Shayrat air base in Homs, a senior regional security official told BuzzFeed News.
A network of local monitors who track air strikes in Syria reached the same conclusion. According to an internal report by the group — which tracks fighter jets from takeoff to attack around the country, in order to provide civilians with advance warning of air strikes — the Syrian jets left Shayrat just before 6:30am and were then seen circling Khan Sheikhun before the attack. The name of the group is being withheld to protect the safety of its monitors.
Shayrat is a joint Russian-Syrian base that may include members of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to Jenny Cafarella, a Syria analyst for the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.
At present, the US military is debating whether to conduct such strikes with warships nearby or aircraft and drones in the air. BuzzFeed News witnessed several members of the Joint Chiefs — including Chief Naval Officer Adm. John Richardson and Chief of Staff of the Army Mark Milley — gathering in Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford’s office on Thursday afternoon.
The US goal, it appears, is to signal to the regime that using sarin gas on civilians, as it is suspected of doing in Idlib on Tuesday, will not be tolerated, but stop short of military action that could lead to further escalation. [Continue reading…]