U.S. targets Syrian chemical weapons facilities with strikes

14 April, 2018, 22:19 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Trump Says Attack on Syria 'Could Be Very Soon or Not So Soon at All'

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told lawmakers he believes a chemical weapons attack occurred in Syria last weekend, but the Trump administration was still assessing conclusive evidence and deciding how to respond, including, whether to attack Syria with US military strikes, as of Thursday.

Briefing alongside Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said Friday night's strikes differed from those Trump ordered a year ago, after the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun.

The United States is attempting to calibrate its response to be strong enough to deter Assad from use of chemical weapons without destroying his government. The Cabinet agreed on the need to "take action" to deter further chemical weapons use by Assad, but added that May would continue to consult with allies to coordinate an worldwide response.

After May met with her Cabinet, a spokesperson issued a statement saying it is highly likely that Syria's President Bashar Assad was responsible for Saturday's attack that killed dozens outside Damascus. The U.S., France and Britain condemned Assad's regime - as well as his allies Russian Federation and Iran - for the attack. "They will lose years of research data, specialized equipment, and extensive chemical weapons precursors". Those inspectors are working against the clock: The gases used dissipate over time, making it harder to confirm as days go by. Those weapons included chlorine and possible sarin gas. An AP reporter in Damascus says the attacks turned the sky orange.

Trump says he has asked US partners "to take greater responsibility for securing their home region, including contributing large amounts of money for the resources, equipment and all of the anti-ISIS effort".

He did not rule out any of the possibility of a US-Russia conflict, saying Moscow was very concerned with "the risky escalation" and "aggressive policies" that certain governments are making. The other two targets were in the Homs area.

"It's necessary to avoid any steps that may fuel tensions in Syria", said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Together, we have sent a clear message to Assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable". Gen. Dunford said the United States used deconfliction lines to tell Russian Federation that they were using the airspace involved in the attack, but gave them no indication what was being hit.

With respect to retaliation, Gen. Dunford said he was unaware of any USA troop losses, and could neither confirm or deny Syrian reports of missiles being shot down.

He said he became convinced Thursday, after he expressed those doubts. "We are not ruling out sarin right now", Mattis said.

"Until we have a more long-term strategy, until we have some idea where we're going in Syria and the Middle East, it seems unwise, to me, to start launching missiles", said Smith.

The action Friday was the second such strike Trump has authorized in Syria after the US launched 59 Tomahawk missiles from warships at a Syrian airbase in April 2017.



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