U.S., Britain, France launch air strikes in Syria
U.S., British and French forces pounded Syria with air strikes early on Saturday 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, APA reports quoting Reuters.
U.S. 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.
At least six loud explosions were heard in Damascus in the early hours of Saturday and smoke was seen rising over the Syrian capital, a Reuters witness said. A second witness said the Barzah district of Damascus had been hit in the strikes. Barzah is the location of a major Syrian scientific research center.
At a Pentagon briefing, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said the targets included a Syrian research facility and a chemical weapons storage facility.
A second U.S. official said targets were being carefully selected with the aim of damaging Assad’s ability to conduct further gas attacks, while avoiding the risk of spreading poisonous fallout in civilian areas.
“The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,” Trump said.
The U.S. president, who has tried to build good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, had sharply critical words for both Russia and Iran, which have backed Assad’s government.
“To Iran and to Russia, I ask, what kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?” Trump said.
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