The last time the United States was faced with how to respond to a chemical attack committed by forces under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was in 2013, when 1,400 people died from sarin rockets in Ghouta.

President Barack Obama considered responding with a military strike but declined to do so after Russia offered to negotiate with Assad to remove chemical weapons from his arsenal.

Area controlled by:

Assad regime

Islamic State

Kurdish groups

Opposition groups

September 2013

At the time, Syria was two-and-a-half years into a civil war between forces loyal to Assad and rebels.

Aleppo

Raqqa

Homs

50 MILES

Damascus

Ghouta

Site of chemical attack that killed 1,400 on Aug. 21, 2013.

April 2017

Now, the conflict has morphed into multifactional war, with Islamic State and Kurdish troops also fighting within the country.

Aleppo

Khan Sheikhoun

Known Russian

military locations

Site of chemical attack

on April 4 that killed 80 people

Area controlled by:

Islamic State

Kurdish groups

Armed opposition groups

Assad regime

September 2013

Aleppo

Raqqa

Idlib

Deir al-Zour

Homs

Damascus

At the time, Syria was two-and-a-half years into a civil war between forces loyal to Assad and rebels.

Ghouta

Chemical attack that killed 1,400 on Aug. 21, 2013.

April 2017

Aleppo

Latakia

Khan Sheikhoun

Deir al-Zour

Chemical attack on April 4 that killed 80 people

50 MILES

Homs

Known Russian

military locations

Now, the conflict has morphed into multifactional war, with Islamic State and Kurdish troops also fighting within the country.

Damascus

Close quarters

The United States’ involvement in Syria has evolved since 2011 from providing weapons and training to rebels, to airstrikes against the Islamic State to deploying troops into the country.

More than 800 U.S. ground troops are stationed in Syria, some near Russian military stations.  

Kobane

TURKEY

Manjib

Hasakah

Raqqa

Tabqa

dam

Deir al-Zour

IRAQ

SYRIA

Qamishli

TURKEY

Kobane

Incirlik

air base

Mosul

Manbij

Hasakah

Raqqa

IRAQ

Aleppo

Tabqa

dam

Med.

Sea

Deir al-Zour

Khan Sheikhoun

Latakia

Palmyra

Tartus

Shayrat air base

LEBANON

Scale varies in this perspective

In Manbij, a ranger platoon is stationed to provide a deterrent force between Turkey, Russia, Arab opposition groups and Kurdish fighters. There is also a forward operating base that is home to U.S. Special Operations forces.

To the east of Manbij, a Marine artillery battery with roughly 400 troops is stationed to provide fire support for advancing forces.

Kobane is arguably the main hub, with a U.S. forward operating base and an airfield that has been built up in past months to accommodate large cargo planes.

Around Tabqa dam, an unknown number of U.S. Special Operations troops are helping a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to retake the dam and town while they approach Raqqa along the Euphrates River.

In Hasakah, U.S. forces train members of the SDF. There is also a small airfield that is used to ferry supplies to and from Irbil in Iraq.

Source: Institute for the Study of War, IHS Jane’s Conflict Monitor and staff reports

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