Trump announced the military action from White House, saying the three allies had marshalled their ‘righteous power against barbarism and brutality’.

 

US, British and French forces struck Syria with more than 100 missiles on Saturday in the first coordinated Western strikes against the Damascus government, targeting what they called chemical weapons sites in retaliation for a poison gas attack. migrants.

US President Donald Trump announced the military action from the White House, saying the three allies had “marshalled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality”. As he spoke, explosions rocked Damascus. The bombing represents a major escalation putting the West in direct confrontation with Assad’s superpower ally Russia, but is unlikely to alter the course of a multi-sided war which has killed at least half a million people in the past seven years.

That in turn raises the question of where Western countries go from here, after a volley of strikes denounced by Damascus and Moscow as both reckless and pointless.

By morning, the Western countries said their bombing was over for now. Syria released video of President Bashar al-Assad, whose Russian- and Iranian-backed forces have already driven his enemies from Syria’s major towns and cities, arriving at work as usual, with the caption “morning of resilience”.

British Prime Minister Theresa May described the strike as “limited and targeted”. She said she had authorised the British action after intelligence indicated Assad’s government was responsible for the attack using chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Douma a week ago.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the strikes had been limited so far to Syria’s chemical weapons facilities.

With more than 100 missiles fired from ships and manned aircraft, the allies struck three of Syria’s main chemical weapons facilities, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford said.

The targets included a Syrian centre in the greater Damascus area for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological weaponry as well as a chemical weapons storage facility near the city of Homs. A third target, also near Homs, contained both a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and a command post.Mattis called the strikes a “one time shot”, although Trump raised the prospect of further strikes if Assad’s government again used chemical weapons. “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” the US president said in a televised address. The Syrian conflict pits a complex myriad of parties against each other, with Russia and Iran giving Assad military and political help that has largely proven decisive over the past three years in crushing any rebel threat to topple him. Fractured opposition forces have had varying levels of support from the West, Arab states and Turkey.

The United States, Britain and France have all bombed the Islamic State group in Syria for years and had troops on the ground to fight them, but refrained from targetting Assad’s government apart from a volley of US missiles last year. Although the Western countries have all said for seven years that Assad must leave power, they held back in the past from striking his government with no wider strategy to defeat him. Assad’s government and allies responded outwardly with fury, although there were also clear suggestions that they considered the attack a one-off, unlikely to harm Assad. REUTERS

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