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TRUMP ORDERS MISSILE STRIKE ON SYRIA

April 07, 2017 | Uhuruspirit

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations from the Mediterranean against Syria. Photograph: Reuters



U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a massive military strike on a Syrian airbase on Thursday in retaliation for a chemical attack he blamed on President Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S. strikes —59 missiles launched from the USS Ross and USS Porter — hit the government-controlled Shayrat air base in central Syria, where U.S. officials say the Syrian military planes that dropped the chemicals had taken off. The U.S. missiles hit at 8:45 p.m. in Washington, 3:45 Friday morning in Syria. The missiles targeted the base's airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas, officials said.

The attack killed some Syrians and wounded others, Talal Barazi, the governor of Syria's Homs province, said without giving precise numbers.

Trump ordered the strikes without approval from Congress or the backing of the United Nations. U.S. officials said he had the right to use force to defend national interests and to protect civilians from atrocities.

Syrian state TV reported a U.S. missile attack on a number of military targets and called the attack an "aggression."

While the United Nations members have called for a full and thorough investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Trump did not wait for that probe to even begin before coming to his conclusion and reacting with military force.

Russia issued a statement early Friday calling the attack an "aggression against a sovereign nation," according to the Guardian.

The Kremlin said the attack was based on an "invented pretext" claiming the Syrian army did not have chemical weapons.

Moscow — a key Syrian ally — said the unilateral U.S. action would cause "significant damage to US-Russia ties" and create a "serious obstacle" to creating an international coalition to defeat ISIS.

According to the statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin regards the strikes as an attempt to distract from the 150 civilians killed by the U.S. during attacks last week in Mosul.

While U.S. defense department officials reported that they informed Russian military officials of the attack, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that there had been no communication at the political level with Russian officials prior to the attack.

Earlier on Thursday, Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, said in response to reports of a potential U.S. strike on Syria "If there is a military action, all responsibility will fall on those who have started a company so tragic and dubious."

Both Russia and Syria have denied responsibility for a chemical attack in Idlib province on Tuesday, both suggesting that the deadly chemical weapons were part of an opposition weapons cache which was attacked by Syrian forces.

Late on Thursday, Syrian state television reportedly condemned the "U.S. aggression against Syrian military objectives," according to HispanTV.

The governor of Homs province in Syria where the strikes took place reported that there were casualties yet gave no specific figures, according to Reuters.

Talal Barzani added that the attacks would "serve the goals of terrorism in Syria and the goals of Israel in the long run."

The Syrian Coalition, an opposition group labeled a terrorist organization by the Assad government, said they "welcomed the attack and ask Washington to neutralize the capacity of Assad to carry out attacks," according to a statement by Ahmad Ramada, a spokesperson for the group, as reported by HispanTV.

Major Jamil al-Saleh, a US-backed Syrian opposition commander, said he hoped the US attack on a government air base would be a "turning point" in the six-year war, according to an AP report.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said the "unilateral action is dangerous, destructive and violates the principles of international law", according to the Guardian.

He added that Iran condemned the missile launch "regardless of the perpetrators and the victims" of Tuesday's chemical weapons attack in Syria."

He also warned it would "strengthen terrorists" and further add to "the complexity of the situation in Syria and the region.

In Turkey, the Health Ministry said in a statement before Thursday's attack that survivors of Tuesday's chemical explosion were exposed to the banned chemical agent Sarin gas. on Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said that he would support any actions taken by the U.S. against Syria.

"Let the words of Trump's intervention in Syria not stay in words. We are ready to support the US operation when it is held," he said in response to Trump's earlier statement that the U.S. was planning a response to Tuesday's alleged chemical attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a brief statement early on Friday morning saying that Israel "fully supports" the U.S. attack.

The U.K. government issued a statement supporting the unilateral U.S. attack.

"The UK government fully supports the US action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks," said the statement issued by Downing street early Friday.

During a press conference Friday morning, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had phoned him ahead of the strike to inform him.

Turnbull said he "strongly supports" Trump's attack on Syria saying the reported Syrian chemical attack on Friday was "crime that called out for a swift response."

At the same time, he said that "we are not at war with the Assad regime."

- with TS/AP/CD



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