Strikes in Syria: What We Know

Strikes in Syria: What We Know

The United States, the United Kingdom and France launched airstrikes against chemical weapons facilities in Syria early Saturday morning in retaliation against the Syrian regime for the alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people. The strikes didn't hit any of the Syrian Air Force units that drop chemical weapons routinely.

The United States, together with France and the UK, launched a series of missile strikes against a number of locations in Syria over an alleged chemical weapons attack in the city of Douma, which the USA leadership blamed on Damascus. "We don't want to get into a fight with them, they don't want to get in a fight with us", he said.

"This is hooliganism in global affairs, and not minor hooliganism, as we are talking about major nuclear powers", the Russian envoy added.

France's United Nations ambassador, Francois Delattre, gave a biting response, telling Nebenzia: "That charter was not designed in order to protect criminals".

After an emergency meeting of the North Atlantic Council at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged the strike offered no guarantee against future chemical attacks by Assad.

And despite bluster about worldwide law at the United Nations (an obscene observation, given the Kremlin's craven embrace of Assad, who should be prosecuted for war crimes), it appears that the two nuclear-armed superpowers will avoid any direct military confrontation.

French President Emmanuel Macron says his nation, the United States and Britain have launched a military operation against the Syrian government's "clandestine chemical arsenal". He is not giving details about what equipment is involved in the operation or what sites it is targeting. Trump, who previously warned of a "big price to pay" for last week's chemical attack in Douma, said the air strike was meant to deter the spread and use of chemical weapons. The targets included a scientific research facility near Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility west of the city of Homs, and a third location near Homs that contained both a command post and a chemical weapons equipment storage facility, the United States military said. He also called for attacks on Syria to cease.

The strikes also appear to leave Assad firmly in control and with his Russian backing intact. Russian military assistance since 2015 has allowed Assad to break a stalemate with the rebels, some of whom are backed by the United States.

The U.S. argues that the horrific chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus last Saturday is a burden Russian Federation must bear, as it failed to ensure that the Syrian regime abandoned its chemical weapons, as the Obama-era agreement required.

The targets of that strike included Syrian aircraft, aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage facilities, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems and radar.

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The first of the targets was a research center near the capital city of Damascus; 76 missiles were launched against the center.

The rhetoric from Syria's backers was harsh.

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, described the use of chemical weapons as "abhorrent", but stressed that member states must act in accordance with "international law in general". "This is a regime that murders its people daily".

Washington, Paris and London said they have proof, without identifying it, that chlorine gas caused victims to suffocate.

· France said the strikes had destroyed a "large part" of Damascus' chemical weapons stock. They will collect soil samples and talk to witnesses in attempts to pin down what occurred.

Then there's the timing of the strikes, which took place days after President Donald Trump mentioned pulling USA troops out of Syria.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed the Kremlin's skepticism about the allies' Douma claim, saying Russian military experts had found no trace of the attack.

"Could not have had a better result. But we were very confident about the decision we've made". In Damascus, it seemed like a fairly ordinary Saturday, except for small rallies in praise of Assad that formed in traffic circles and around fountains.

"Nothing is certain in these kinds of matters", he said.

"Chemical weapons are a threat to us all", Haley later added.

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