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IT'S A ONE-TIME SHOT: MATTIS

US launches Syria air strikes; key Assad weapon sites hit

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2018

The US, UK and France jointly launched strikes against targets at three sites in Syria in the early hours of Saturday morning, following a week of threats of retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in the Damascus enclave of Douma, reported CNN.
 
"I ordered the US armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad," Trump said late Friday at the White House.
 
The strikes were launched at 9 p.m. ET, as most of Europe and the Middle East was shrouded in darkness. Photos showed missiles streaking over the night sky in Syria, and witnesses told CNN they heard explosions in the capital Damascus as Trump was making his address.
 
Russia's news agency TASS reported that none of the missiles fired by the three western nations struck areas near its naval and air bases in Syria. Those bases come under the protection of Russian air defense units.
 
Three targets were hit in Syria, including a scientific research center located in the greater Damascus area, and two sites near Homs, the Pentagon said.
 
Three civilians were wounded in Homs after "several" missiles were intercepted by Syria air defense systems, Syria State TV said.
 
US Defense Secretary James Mattis said "right now this is a one-time shot and I believe that it sent a very strong message" to the Syrian regime.
 
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the US strikes had hit the Syrian capital when the country "finally" had a chance at peace.
 
Iran's foreign ministry condemned the strikes. "The attack is the blatant violation of international laws, as well as ignoring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said according to Iran's state news agency.
 
US defense and military officials told CNN that aircraft, including B-1 bombers, and at least one US Navy warship based in the Red Sea, participated in the strikes.
 
General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing that the first allied strike targeted a scientific research center in greater Damascus involved in the development and production of chemical weapons.
 
The second site targeted was a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs, while the third was at a chemical equipment storage facility and important command post.
 
"Important infrastructure was destroyed which will result in a setback for the Syrian regime. They will lose years of research and development, storage and equipment," Dunford said.
 
Trump said that he decided to take action because last weekend's action by Assad "was a significant attack against his own people," and "not the actions of a man, they are crimes of a monster instead."
 
The US President said the strikes were in coordination with France and the United Kingdom, adding that the purpose of the campaign is to "establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons."
 
"The combined American, British and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power: military, economic and diplomatic," Trump said.
 
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement that she "authorized British armed forces to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime's chemical weapons capability and deter their use.
 
"The UK element of the carefully co-ordinated joint action was contributed by four Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s," a statement from the UK Ministry of Defense said.
 
"They launched Storm Shadow missiles at a military facility -- a former missile base -- some fifteen miles west of Homs, where the regime is assessed to keep chemical weapon precursors stockpiled in breach of Syria's obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention."
 
French President Emmanuel Macron said he "ordered the French armed forces to intervene" after a "red line set by France" on the use of chemical weapons had been crossed.
 
The office of the French President posted a video of a squadron of French military jets taking off to launch their part of the strikes.
 
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau backed the action from US and its allies.
 
"Canada supports the decision by the US, the United Kingdom, and France to take action to degrade the Assad regime's ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against its own people. We will continue to work with our international partners to further investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Those responsible must be brought to justice," he stated.‎-TradeArabia New Service

 




Tags: US | Trump | Syria air strikes |

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