In the last few months, ISIS has been all but pushed out of Syria and defeated by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, and U.S. President Donald Trump has announced that he will be pulling United States military troops out of Syria. So why would Assad unleash a chemical attack on his civilians, inviting forces like those of the U.S. to retaliate when on the brink of peace? It is simply illogical for him to take such actions, which means another party may be responsible for the deaths of over 40 Syrian civilians. Although there is evidence that the White Helmets, a rebel-run organization in Syria, may have had a hand in this incident, the big picture nonetheless shows that Assad was most likely the culprit.

In spite of his many stated inconsistencies on the U.S. military’s status in Syria, President Trump announced on April 4 that he would be pulling troops out, when their main combatant, ISIS, seemed to be defeated. Three days later, on April 7, dozens of Syrian civilians were admitted into hospitals because of a chemical agent in the city of Douma, giving Trump reason to strike Assad’s chemical weapon storage and his country. Trump does not want Assad to remain in office, and this drone strike weakens his government’s standing, allowing the U.S. government to move one step closer to intervening against Syria and the Russians, Syria’s very strong allies. Such a development could be a motive for the United States attacking Syrian citizens and framing Assad, but if such scheming ever came to light the U.S. would suffer consequences of incredible magnitude. As much as Trump likes to tweet recklessly, no one would launch such a conspiracy without global warfare in mind, which is why it is highly unlikely that U.S. elements are responsible for this act.

If Assad truly was not responsible, the most likely culprit was the White Helmets. They are the only organization, or state, that would not receive tremendous backlash from other countries, as not only is a rebel-run organization usually not a main suspect, but with the limited news coverage in Syria, it would be feasible to fake an attack if planned properly. The White Helmets, a Syrian rebel organization that rescues and helps citizens affected by the war, have wanted to topple Assad and Russia for several years, and such a barbaric attack like this one would give them a motive to strike back.

Another possibility is that this chemical attack never happened. Russia, although not exactly a reputable source, blames Britain for helping the White Helmets stage an attack, and, upon visiting Douma, Russian experts claim that they saw no evidence of a chemical attack ever taking place. This would be a good plan for the White Helmets, as their motive of taking down the Syrian government would be achieved without harming any Syrian citizens. The outrage that ensued from this attack did in fact weaken Assad’s military and chemical weapons through drone strikes from Western and neighboring countries.

On a less radical note, while such conspiracies are enjoyable to think up, Assad was likely the perpetrator of these attacks. He does have a history of using a chemical agent on his own people, as shown in Ghouta in 2013, when hundreds of his own civilians died. A far-reaching idea that the White Helmets concocted these attacks does fit certain aspects of this incident; but most of the evidence from the scene, such as the videos, point toward Assad and his corrupt regime.