Monday, 18 June, 2018

Damascus defiant as Trump orders strikes after Syria chemical attack

Charlie Simmons | 14 April, 2018, 21:33

"This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very bad regime". "This must be stopped".

The Syrian foreign ministry described the strikes as "barbaric aggression" and said they would not "affect in any way the determination and insistence of the Syrian people and their heroic armed forces", according to state news agency Sana.

The Pentagon also said that it was not aware of any civilian causalities at the time. The government's capture of Douma, the last town held by the rebels in eastern Ghouta, marks a major victory for Assad.

Behind closed doors, Trump pushed for a more aggressive response than the one taken past year, wanting options that would involve attacks on targets in Syria associated with Russian Federation and Iran, officials said.

The US was also anxious that the strikes would prompt a confrontation with Syria's biggest military ally: Russian Federation.

Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons arsenal in 2013 and submit to OPCW inspections.

The British PM also linked the increasing use of chemical weapons with the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, insisting they were both "part of a pattern of disregard".

"Nobody should doubt British resolve", she added.

Read: Chemical weapons inspectors, how do they work?

"It was right to take the action that we have done in the timing that we have done", she said.

"This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very bad regime", he said of the suspected deadly gas attack a week ago on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma.

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In Damascus immediately after the attack, hundreds of residents - many waving Syrian, Russian and Iranian flags - rushed to the landmark Omayyad square of the Syrian capital.

"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria".

"These attacks on multiple axes were able to overwhelm the Syrian air defence systems".

Dunford said there was some "activity" by Syrian surface-to-air missiles, but there were no reports of US or allied casualties.

The French military has said it does not believe any of its missiles were intercepted.

"I have repeatedly expressed my deep disappointment that the Security Council failed to agree on a dedicated mechanism for effective accountability for the use of chemical weapons in Syria", he added.

Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Joseph Dunford said the strikes were carried out on three Syrian chemical weapons infrastructures and the USA believed it would send al-Assad a strong message.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed her support for US, French and British airstrikes, claiming they were "necessary and appropriate" to deter the use of chemical weapons in future.

Explosions hit the capital, Damascus, as well as two locations near the city of Homs, the Pentagon said. The US mission in Syria remains to defeat ISIS and not get involved in the country's civil war, White said. No additional strikes against the Assad regime were planned for the time being, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said, following Dunford's comments. The barbaric and intolerable use of chemical weapons should never go unchecked.

Speaking to the press from Downing Street on Saturday morning, she described the joint action with the US and France as "limited, targeted and effective" and insisted the aim was not to bring about regime change.

"At this time, my thoughts are with our fearless British servicemen and women - and our French and American partners - who are carrying out their duty with the greatest professionalism".

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