Sun, Apr 15, 2018 - Page 1 News List

US, allies hit Syria as Russia fumes

AP, BEIRUT

Loud explosions early yesterday rocked the Syrian capital and filled the sky with heavy smoke after US President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

Syrian air defenses responded to the joint strikes by the US, France and Britain.

Syrian television reported that a scientific research center had been hit and that Syrian air defenses had hit 13 incoming rockets south of Damascus.

After the attack ceased and the early morning skies went dark once more, vehicles with loudspeakers roamed the streets of Damascus blaring nationalist songs.

“Good souls will not be humiliated,” the Syrian presidency tweeted after the airstrikes began.

Syrian state TV said the attacks were a “blatant violation of international law and shows contempt for international legitimacy.”

The Russian Ministry of Defense said Syria’s Soviet-made air defense systems shot down all 12 cruise missiles at the Dumayr air base east of Damascus.

Syrian air defense units downed 71 out of 103 missiles launched by the US and its allies, it said.

“A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military,” Trump tweeted yesterday. “Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!”

Trump on Friday night announced that the three allies had launched military strikes to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for alleged chemical weapons use and to prevent him from doing it again.

The US president said Washington is prepared to “sustain” pressure on al-Assad until he ends what Trump called a criminal pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons.

The Syrian government has repeatedly denied any use of banned weapons.

“Right now this is a one-time shot,” US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, but did not rule out further attacks.

He said the airstrikes were launched against several sites that helped provide al-Assad with the ability to create chemical weapons.

The decision to strike, after days of deliberations, marked Trump’s second order to attack Syria; he authorized a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles to hit a single Syrian airfield in April last year in retaliation for al-Assad’s use of sarin gas against civilians.

Trump chastised Syria’s two main allies, Russia and Iran, for their roles in supporting “murderous dictators,” adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin had guaranteed a 2013 international agreement for al-Assad to get rid of all of his chemical weapons.

He called on Moscow to change course and join the West in seeking a more responsible regime in Damascus.

Russia yesterday called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council as Moscow said it would consider supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria following US-led strikes.

“Russia convenes an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss aggressive actions of the US and its allies,” Putin said in a statement published on the Kremlin Web site.

“The escalation of the situation around Syria has a devastating impact on the whole system of international relations,” he added.

“Russia in the most serious way condemns the attack on Syria, where Russian military servicemen help the legitimate government to fight terrorism,” Putin said.

China said it was “opposed to the use of force” following US-led airstrikes against Syria and called for a “return to the framework of international law.”

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