In the four-and-a-half-year armed conflict that has plagued Syria, 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives and another 11 million have been forced from their homes as a result of the violence. It all began in March 2011 when anti-government protests surfaced in a fight for democracy. Protesters came to action, however peacefully, out of disgust for the arrest and torture of 15 schoolchildren who wrote anti-government slogans on a wall.

Security forces opened fire on demonstrators, which instead of instilling fear on the general population only grew the dissidence among the public.

By July of that year, protesters had grown into the hundreds of thousands.The conflict did not remain a simple battle of “good vs. evil,” “pro-democracy, US-backed rebels vs. an oppressive regime,” however. ISIS came in and capitalized on the chaos of war convincing many secular moderates fed up with the rule of President Assad to join their cause.

Those who do not support Assad’s regime, vaguely branded “the opposition,” are composed of as many as 1,000 different groups— political parties, rebel fighters, strict Sunnis living under a Shia ruler— whose only commonality is their want to take down Assad.These groups can be simplified into three groups: those who support Assad and do not support ISIS, AKA Russian-backed security forces, those who support ISIS and do not support Assad, and those who do not support ISIS or Assad, or in other words US-backed rebels.

In 2013, a chemical-weapons attack took place on the suburbs of Damascus, killing hundreds of civilians. Both the rebels and the Syrian government pointed fingers at each other and the U.S. and Russia agreed that Assad needed to terminate his chemical weapons capabilities, to which he conceded.

In April 2017, there was another chemical weapons attack on a northwestern town in Syria.

The US, the UK, and other nations have all laid blame on Assad. President trump, in the boldest diplomacy decision of his young Presidency, ordered an airstrike on the airfield in Syria from which the attack reportedly originated. “

This week, the White House received intelligence that Assad has been preparing for a second chemical attack, and issued a warning that should these allegations be proven true, Syria will be thoroughly reprimanded.

The nation’s government claims that these accusations are false, and America is using it as an excuse to justify another attack on the country. Russia in agreeance claimed the US was concocting a provocation in the wartorn nation. "Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people,” UN Ambassador Nikki Hayley tweeted Tuesday.

However, as part of the 2018 defense spending bill, Congress Thursday set in motion a repeal and replacement plan for the post-9/11 authorization of military force (AUMF) which gave a green light to war with Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups in Afghanistan. The AUMF has since been used to justify military operations in 14 countries, and not unlike the preceding administration, the Trump administration has used this authorization to conduct strikes and support operations against ISIS.

Trump argues his lack of congressional l authorization ensures an “element of surprise," as when he criticized Hillary Clinton for putting her plan to defeat ISIS on her website, “You’re telling the enemy everything you want to do!” and “I don’t think Gen. Douglas Macarthur would like that too much.”

“Let me be clear: With the 2001 AUMF still on the books in its current form, any administration can rely on this blank check to wage endless war,” says Senator Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who is not alone in feeling that the AUMF should not be so all-encompassing, and that applying it to Syria is a bit of a stretch.