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Opinion Get the facts straight on Syria

The rubble of damaged buildings in the city of Douma, Syria, on April 16.
The rubble of damaged buildings in the city of Douma, Syria, on April 16. (Ali Hashisho/Reuters)
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The April 15 front-page article “Trump declares victory after strikes in Syria” deserved four Pinocchios. President Trump never claimed victory in Syria. There were no facts presented in the article to support this claim. The mission was to inflict damage on Syria’s means of producing and delivering chemical weapons. When the president claimed “Mission Accomplished,” he was obviously referring to this mission, not a successful victory to end the conflict in Syria.

Such a claim may easily be made on the editorial pages. But front-page news should mandate a moral commitment to facts, not vague word manipulation.

One of Mr. Trump’s many skills is his uncanny ability to provoke his critics to say and sometimes do things that are more ridiculous and absurd than his own actions. The Post is playing into his hands.  

Ken Sprinkle, Potomac

At face value, President Trump’s second bombing in Syria because of Bashar al-Assad’s suspected horrific use of chemical weapons against his own people seems commendable. Yet further research reveals that Mr. Trump’s bombings are sadly overshadowed by his act of absolutely ignoring Mr. Assad’s deadly use of conventional weapons on the Syrian people. This Trumpian double standard is hypocritical to say the least. The great sin of man’s inhumanity to man in Syria is unacceptable whether it be carried out with chemical or conventional weapons.

To add insult to injury, the Trump administration has approved only a handful of the innocent Syrian refugees who seek safety and shelter in the United States. This policy sends a horrible mixed message and makes the Trump administration a lightweight in terms of advancing human rights for oppressed Syrian refugees.

Arthur L. Mackey Jr., Roosevelt, N.Y.

Airstrikes in Syria are less likely to deter Russian support for Syrian President Bashar al- ­Assad than the Treasury Department’s strenuous exercise of its discretion to impose “secondary sanctions” on abettors of the Russian oligarchs and companies that the administration recently named. Similar to the penalties that brought Iran to the bargaining table, such sanctions bar U.S. banks from doing business with named Russians and with any foreign banks that Treasury names as having facilitated significant transactions involving those Russians and companies.

Treasury has yet to levy any such sanctions, but mere warnings to British banks (to stop helping oligarchs convert rubles into London real estate) have reportedly led to speculation that risk-averse banks there may simply cancel all of their Russian accounts. And the unspoken threat that Treasury might exercise its discretion with respect to one of them — Oleg Deripaska — caused the share price for his giant company Rusal to fall by 50 percent overnight.   

So the sanctions are already biting. But for secondary sanctions to work, Treasury needs to keep the pressure on, expanding the sanctions’ scope by naming other pals of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and more companies, and sanctioning foreign facilitators, if necessary. Any relapse into Trumpian foot-dragging would be unconscionable.

Vincent J. Canzoneri, Newton, Mass.

President Trump unleashed America’s military might on the Syrian regime. Were any copies of James B. Comey’s new book collateral damage?

Robert Edgar, Arlington