US, Britain and France Launch Barrage Against Syrian Chemical Weapons Facilities

Alonzo Simpson
April 14, 2018

It is the biggest intervention by Western powers against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. As he spoke, explosions rocked Damascus.

Defence Minister Florence Parly said this meant Russian Federation had been "warned beforehand" to avoid any confrontation or escalation.

Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military's General Staff says Saturday's strike hasn't caused any casualties and Syrian military facilities targeted by the U.S., Britain and France have suffered only minor damage.

On Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry stated that it had proof that the "chemical attack" in Douma had been a provocation and had been staged by Western-backed NGOs, including the White Helmets.

"We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents", the United States president said in a televised address.

Unlike the unilateral US strike in Syria previous year, in which only one site was attacked, the operation was aimed at the "long-term degradation of Syria's ability to research, develop and deploy chemical weapons". "But politically, it is a strike against Russian Federation", he said.

Nevertheless, Assad's government and Russian Federation both responded angrily. Again, we are being threatened.

Russia's Ministry of Defense said it believed the action by the US, UK and France was not in retaliation to the alleged chemical attack in Douma but instead was a reaction to the "success" of the Syrian army in liberating its territory from rebels.

Syria's Foreign Ministry called on the worldwide community "to strongly condemn this aggression", warning it would "pose a threat to global peace and security as a whole", in a statement published by the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency. Attacking Syria is a crime. "This is the first time as prime minister that I have had to take the decision to commit our armed forces in combat - and it is not a decision I have taken lightly", she said.

"This action was proportionate and targeted, it was not aimed at (Syrian President Bashar al) Assad's allies nor at the civilian population", Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a televised statement.

Haley, the US ambassador to the U.N., told an emergency meeting of the Security Council that should the United States and its allies decide to act in Syria, it would be to defend "a bedrock worldwide norm that benefits all nations" - the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons.

Speaking after the United States air raid on Saturday, Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to Washington, reiterated that "such actions will not be left without consequences".

US Considering Striking 8 Possible Targets in Syria Following Attack
Britain has launched air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria , but not against the country's government. A fact-finding mission from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is expected to head to Douma.

The participation of British and French forces enables Trump to assert a wider worldwide commitment against the use of chemical weapons, but the multi-pronged attack carries the risk of Russian retaliation.

She added that "with our allies, we ensured that the Russians were warned ahead of time".

The situation in Damascus and other towns and cities in Syria is calm now, Rudskoi said.

A second witness said the Barzah district of Damascus had been hit in the strikes. A major scientific research center is located in the area.

Mattis disclosed that the USA had not yet confirmed that the most recent suspected Syrian chemical weapons attack, on April 7 in the Damascus suburb of Douma, included the use of sarin gas.

And every time the U.S. hits a Syrian target, there's always a risk that something goes wrong: A USA warplane is shot down, the U.S. accidentally hits a civilian target, or accidentally kills a Russian or Iranian-backed fighter -prompting one or both of those countries to retaliate against the United States.

President Donald Trump announced "precision strikes" on Syria on Friday, in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed dozens of people there earlier this month.

The army said almost 110 missiles hit targets in the capital Damascus and other territory, and air defence systems brought majority down.

In 2013, president Putin and his government promised the world that they would guarantee the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons.

As ISIS captured a wide swath of Iraq and Syria in 2014, the U.S. began conducting air strikes against the group and shifted its Syria policy to fighting the militants.

Evidence that the nerve agent sarin also was used is inconclusive, he said.

Kosachev reiterated the view of other lawmakers that the attack's intent was to interfere with worldwide investigators who want to probe whether a chemical weapons attack took place in the town of Douma last week. What we are seeing from our president and our allies is a targeted, proportional, and necessary global response to this violation of worldwide law.

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