April 25, 2018

Syrian airstrikes not expected to weaken Bashar Assad's brutal grip on power

15 April 2018, 04:06 | Opal Carroll

Condemnation Theresa May

Condemnation Theresa May

The United States warned Saturday that it was "locked and loaded", ready to launch more military strikes on Syria if President Bashar Assad's forces carry out a new chemical weapons attack.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the action was narrowly focused on Syria's chemical weapons facilities while May insisted there was no intention to interfere in the broader civil war that has engulfed the country since 2011. "So, I ordered the French armed forces to intervene tonight, as part of an worldwide operation in coalition with the United States of America and the United Kingdom and directed against the clandestine chemical arsenal of the Syrian regime". According to the Pentagon, the strikes took out three chemical weapons sites considered to be central to the production of chemical weapons and the Trump administration has threatened further military action if chemical attacks on civilians persist. "Initial indications are that we accomplished the military objectives without interference from Syria", he said.

Theresa May is facing a furious backlash from MPs after she ordered United Kingdom forces to join the USA and France in targeted airstrikes on Syrian chemical weapons facilities early - without having gained the consent of parliament.

US President Donald Trump appeared to surrender any hope of a working relationship with Moscow when he tweeted that "President (Vladimir) Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad" in a "MINDLESS chemical attack in Syria".

In a statement the ministry said that of 103 cruise missiles fired in the US -led airstrike, 71 were shot down by Syria's Soviet-made air-defense systems.

USA officials say Saturday's attack was created to avoid collapsing Assad's regime, which could provide an opportunity for the Islamic State or other radical groups involved in the civil war, or draw responses from Russian Federation or Iran, which are supporting the Assad regime.

"We are confident that we have crippled Syria's chemical weapons program".

The Syrian government has repeatedly denied any use of banned weapons.

"Attacking Syria is a crime".

Moscow wants an emergency session of the UN Security Council, where it is a permanent member, to discuss the "aggressive actions" of the U.S. and its allies.

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The decision to strike, after days of deliberations, marked Trump's second order to attack Syria.

Since the US and its allies attacked Syria Friday in response to alleged chemical weapons attacks on its own people, there has been a significant surge in Russian trolls promoting fake news, the Pentagon announced Saturday.

The statement clearly was aimed at discouraging the West from more attacks on Syria that could endanger Assad's gains on the battlefield, where Russian support has helped him secure control of most strategic areas. If the President intends for there to be a sustained US military response in Syria, that requires the approval of Congress, according to our Constitution.

He says the Russian air defense assets in Syria monitored the strike but didn't engage any of the missiles.

The attack also involved British and French warplanes and U.S. B-1 bombers, all of which launched missiles outside of Syrian airspace.

Syrian armed forces said in a statement, however, that the country's defense systems "intercepted most of the missiles, but some hit targets including the Research Center in Barzeh", a suburb of Damascus.

In a statement issued by the Kremlin earlier Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the emergency Security Council meeting and said the strikes had a "destructive influence on the entire system of worldwide relations".

Continuing: "This legally questionable action risks escalating further, as U.S. defence secretary James Mattis has admitted, an already devastating conflict and therefore makes real accountability for war crimes and use of chemical weapons less, not more likely".

Some supporters of the anti-Assad opposition said they were disappointed that the strikes had been limited. He said the USA knew of no civilians killed by allied missiles.

"A perfectly executed strike last night".

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