US, UK, France launch air strikes in Syria

Saturday, 2018-04-14 03:03:36
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Anti-aircraft fire is seen over Damascus, Syria early April 14. (Photo: Reuters)
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US, British and French forces pounded Syria with air strikes early on April 14 in response to a poison gas attack that killed dozens of people last week, in the biggest intervention by Western powers against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

US President Donald Trump announced the military action from the White House late on Friday. As he spoke, explosions rocked Damascus. British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron said the UK and France had joined in the attack.

Trump said he was prepared to sustain the response until Assad’s government stopped its use of chemical weapons.

The US-led intervention in Syria comes just hours before the UN’s Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons experts were scheduled to visit the Damascus suburb of Douma on Saturday to determine whether chemical weapons had been used there last week.

Shortly after Trump's announcement, a statement from UK Prime Minister Theresa May said she had authorised British forces to conduct "coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian regime's chemical weapons capability."

French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that he ordered French forces to carry out a military action against Syria in coalition with the US and France. He said in a statement issued by his office that France’s response was “limited” and solely aimed at “the capabilities of the Syrian regime for the production and use of chemical weapons.”

According to reports, the US-led attacks hit a research facility located in the capital's Barzeh District. Syrian state media said that the air strikes targeted Damascus and surrounding areas.

Syria's air defences have shot down 13 missiles in the Kiswah area south of Damascus, SANA state television reported.

The combined decision by the US and its allies to strike Syria comes just after Russian defence ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov presented evidence claiming that last Saturday's alleged chemical attack in Douma was orchestrated. The general also noted that London was “directly involved in the provocation.”

Weeks ago, Russia warned that the militants in the east Ghouta enclave might stage a chemical weapons attack to win over Western public opinion. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the reports of Saturday’s chemical attack “fake news,” while the Russian military investigating the area found no traces of chlorine or nerve agents, any eyewitnesses who could confirm their use or anyone who might have been affected.

Reuters, RT