"The U.S. government has given [Assad] every reason to believe he can carry on this way, and there will be no consequences," says Weiss.
The United States, Germany, and the Netherlands have sent six Patriot batteries and hundreds of troops to the Turkish border with Syria to deter or defend against missile strikes. It is unclear if those forces are willing to engage in a preemptive strike.
Among the visible side effects of the violence in Syria are the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing into neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Many were met with minimal resources during a chilling winter and have died of exposure.