Hopes of a restart to peace talks appeared faint in May 2018 after a series of events showed that the threat of more aggravated conflict is more likely than any de-escalation in tensions. In April the US, France and the UK launched air strikes against Syrian government targets identified as being linked to the regime’s chemical weapons programme. The strikes were in response to an alleged regime chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held town of Douma that led to the death of at least 70 people including children. The air strikes were of limited scope, leading to no known casualties, and did not harm the ability of Syrian president Bashar al‑Assad and his allies to maintain pressure on remaining rebel forces. The US informed Russia in advance to eliminate any chance of heightened tension between the two superpowers. However the level of confrontation between Israel and Iran has increased. In the same month Israel launched an air attack that it claimed had destroyed most of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria, as well as much of Syria’s air defence system. That brought a direct Iranian response for the first time, raising fears of an outbreak of full hostilities.