The Pentagon Says Strikes 'Crippled' Syria's Chemical Weapons Sites
17 April, 2018, 19:11
The United States, along with Britain and France, launched joint airstrikes on military targets in Syria on Saturday for its alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, the last rebel-held town in Eastern Ghouta near the Syrian capital, earlier this month.
The US said the overnight missile attacks have crippled Bashar al-Assad's chemical weaponry.
US President Donald Trump stressed as he announced the military action that the airstrikes were created to discourage further production and use of chemical weapons. "There won't be anything, or anyone, even close!"
The bombings, hailed by US President Donald Trump as a success but denounced by Damascus and its allies as an act of aggression, marked the biggest intervention by Western countries against Assad and ally Russian Federation.
The Russian defence ministry was quoted as saying that Syria deployed Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, including S-125, S-200, 2K12 Kub and Buk to repel the attacks.
Following the bombing campaign, Syrian TV quickly released video of an unphased Assad casually walking through a building.
Haley warned that the United States was "locked and loaded", ready to strike again if any new chemical attack was carried out in Syria.
A bullish Bashar Al Assad was in a good mood when he met a group of visiting Russian lawmakers after the attacks were more limited than predicted following Mr Trump's initially aggressive response to the Douma attack.
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"We put a heavy blow into their chemical weapons program, setting them back years", Haley added. "We need real, long-term commitment to bring peace to Syria".
The US assesses that the Syrians fired about 40 missiles in retaliation, but none of them endangered the US forces and its allies.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned her United Nations counterparts that although the mission was designed as a one-off, that did not preclude further action against Assad.
Britain says Western powers will study options if Syrian government again uses chemical weapons, but nothing is planned as yet.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has opposed British military action throughout his career, described the Syrian attack as "legally questionable".
Speaking on the BBC on April 15, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that the strikes were about saying "enough is enough" over what he called the "barbaric" use of chemical weapons. "We've spent a week talking about the unique horror of chemical weapons".
The move signalled the West's resolve to return to diplomacy after a one-night military operation that hit sites Western officials said were linked to Syria's chemical weapons program. A sarin attack in 2013 was also what almost brought then-President Barack Obama to strike Syria.
- The first was at a scientific research centre in greater Damascus involved in the development and production of chemical weapons, the second at a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs, and the third at a chemical equipment storage facility and important command post.
- Syrian state TV called the attacks a "blatant violation of worldwide law and shows contempt for global legitimacy".
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Separately, the White House has said American objectives in Syria have not altered, reiterating that President Donald Trump wants USA troops home "as quickly as possible".
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