Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) accused the Trump White House of coordinating with the Russians and Syrians to stage the missile strikes against chemical weapons facilities. Menendez made the comments during an interview on MSNBC’s "All In With Chris Hayes" on Wednesday.
After Hayes asked Menendez if he approved of the airstrikes, Menendez replied:
“At the end of the day, I don’t know if this was carefully choreographed,” Menendez speculated. “Because you have a strike against three facilities, the Russians don’t activate their defense missiles against us, the Syrians shoot their missiles after our missiles land. And you wonder, wait a minute, was this a choreographed kabuki show? What’s really missing here is a strategy to end the disaster that is Syria.”
Menendez is the ranking member on the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee.
When Hayes asked if Menendez was suggesting the existence of a "backchannel to actually coordinate with either Russia or the Assad regime," Menendez doubled down:
“Well, I certainly have to wonder. The Russians have a very sophisticated defense system, that they did not activate. The Syrians shot missiles after our missiles landed. And the Russians were not hit at all in any of those chemical weapons sites. It’s just too many questions that raise the concerns: Did we act and show our indignation, but was it choreographed? At least were the Russians told, ‘Stay out of these sections, and by the way, don’t challenge us. And if you don’t challenge us, then everything will go as planned’?”
Menendez said that what was "crying out here in Syria" was a strategy that would isolate Russia and Iran, and bring about a U.N. brokered end to the humanitarian crisis.
"Not the Astana process where Russia, Turkey, and Iran are deciding Syria's future and a good part of the Middle East," he said.
On April 13, the United States, backed by the United Kingdom and France, announced that it had launched a series of airstrikes on Syria, in response to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons on a city held by rebels who opposed his regime.
However, the airstrikes seem to have done little to change Assad's blatant disregard for civilian casualties. Out of the more than half a million people who have been killed in the now more than seven-year long Syrian civil war, 85 percent have been civilians killed by Assad's forces.