Pentagon has detailed U.S., British and French air and naval forces attacks launched against the Syrian government’s chemical weapon arsenal in retaliation for the use of such weapons on civilians.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. Joe Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave the details in a statement issued by Pentagon.
Mattis said: “As the world knows, the Syrian people have suffered terribly under the prolonged brutality of the Assad regime.
“On April 7, the regime decided to again defy the norms of civilised people showing callous disregard for international law by using chemical weapons to murder women, children and other innocents.
“We and our allies find these atrocities inexcusable. President Donald Trump ordered the strikes to stop the regime from using such inhumane weapons again”.
Mattis said stopping the atrocities in Syria was in the vital national interests of the U.S.
He said the strikes hit Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s chemical weapon research, development and production facilities.
“The strikes tonight were far harder than the ones last year, when the United States launched 58 missiles against the Shayrat air base following a chemical attack.
“Obviously, the Assad regime did not get the message last year,” Mattis said.
The strike was meant to deter Assad from contemplating another attack, and allied forces are ready to continue the action if Assad continued to use these banned weapons,” Mattis said.
He said the strikes now sent a very clear message to Syrian leaders that “they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable”.
Mattis emphasised that the strikes were directed against the Syrian regime, and the strike planners went to great lengths to avoid civilian and foreign casualties.
“It is a time for all civilised nations to urgently unite to end the Syrian civil war by supporting the United Nations backed Geneva peace process,” the secretary said.
Dunford said the three nations forces were integrated throughout the planning and execution of the operation.
“The targets that were struck and destroyed were specifically associated with the Syrian regime chemical weapons programme,” the chairman said.
According to him, the first target was a scientific research centre in the greater Damascus area.
“The military facility was a centre for research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological agents,” the general said.
The second target was a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs, he said adding: “We assess this was the primary location of Syrian sarin and precursor production equipment.”
“The third target contained both a chemical weapons storage facility and an important command post,” he said.
The strikes should result in a long-term degradation of Syria’s chemical and biological warfare capabilities, the chairman said.
“The strike was not only a strong message to the regime that their actions were inexcusable, but it also inflicted maximum damage without unnecessary risks to civilians,” Dunford said.
TRUMP TAKES A SWIPE AT RUSSIA AND IRAN
U.S. President Donald Trump while addressing the nation on Friday night said that the “massacre” last weekend in Syria “was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime.”
“The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead,” Trump said.
Trump also took a swipe at Russia and Iran, condemning their continued support to Assad’s regime.
“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?
“The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants, and murderous dictators,” Trump said.
“In 2013, President Vladimir Putin and his government promised the world that they would guarantee the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons.
“Assad’s recent attack and today’s response are the direct result of Russia’s failure to keep that promise.
“Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or if it will join with civilised nations as a force for stability and peace.
“Hopefully, someday we’ll get along with Russia and maybe even Iran. But maybe not,” the president stressed.
Trump however added that the U.S. “does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria”.
“We look forward to the day when we can bring our warriors home. We cannot purge the world of evil or act everywhere there is tyranny.
“No amount of American blood or treasure can produce lasting peace and security in the Middle East,” Trump said.
“We pray that God will bring comfort to those suffering in Syria. We pray that God will guide the whole region toward a future of dignity and of peace.
“And we pray that God will continue to watch over and bless the United States of America,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of Defence Gen. James Mattis said U.S. and its allies struck harder this time than the 2017 strike against the country which did not seem to deter the Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, Joint Chief of Staff, said the strikes were carried out on three Syrian chemical weapons infrastructures and the U.S. believed it would send al-Assad a strong message.
On Friday, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said analysis done by the U.S., U.K. and France proved the chemical attack.
In a statement Friday night, UK Prime Minister Theresa May called last weekend’s chemical attack “pure horror”.
“The Syrian regime has a history of using chemical weapons against its own people in the most cruel and abhorrent way.
“And a significant body of information including intelligence indicates the Syrian Regime is responsible for this latest attack,” May said.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the response was “limited to the Syrian regime’s capabilities to produce and use chemical weapons”.
“We cannot tolerate the normalisation of the use of chemical weapons, which is a direct threat to the security of the Syrian people and our collective security,” Macron said.
BRITAIN HAD NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO TAKE MILITARY ACTION – MAY
British had no alternative but to take military action to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capability, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Saturday after ordering air-launched cruise missile strikes along with the U. S. and Fance.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence said four Royal Air Force Tornado jets from the Akrotiri base in Cyprus fired Storm Shadow missiles at a military facility near Homs where it was assessed that Syria had stockpiled chemicals.
May cast the strike as “limited and targeted” and came after intelligence indicated Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government was responsible for an attack using chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Douma on April 8.
May said the missile strike, designed to minimise civilian casualties, was aimed at deterring further use of chemical weapons and was not an attempt to topple the Syrian government.
“This is not about intervening in a civil war. It is not about regime change,” May said in statement made from her country residence at Chequers just minutes after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the strikes from the White House.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the mission had been highly successful and implied that no further action was imminent.
“We don’t expect that we’ll be a position where we’re having to make further strikes,” he told LBC radio.
“We believe that the strikes we have taken last night had a significant impact in terms of what the Syrian regime can do in the future.”
By launching strikes without prior approval from parliament, May dispensed with a non-binding constitutional convention dating back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
She said speed was essential and that military action was in the national interest.
May, whose government is propped up by a small Northern Irish party, said Britain and the West had an obligation to deter both Assad and others from using chemical weapons after the poison gas attack in Douma near Damascus killed up to 75 people, including children.
However, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a fervent anti-war campaigner, called the strikes “legally questionable” and said May should have recalled parliament from a holiday and “not trailed after Donald Trump”.
“Bombs won’t save lives or bring about peace,” he said in a statement.
“Britain should be playing a leadership role to bring about a ceasefire in the conflict, not taking instructions from Washington and putting British military personnel in harm’s way.”
Britain has accused Russia of being behind last month’s nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, southern England – a charge Moscow has denied.
“While this action is specifically about deterring the Syrian regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity,” May said.
“We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised – within Syria, on the streets of the UK, or anywhere else in our world.”
May said Britain and its allies had sought to use every diplomatic means to stop the use of chemical weapons, but had been repeatedly thwarted, citing a Russian veto of an independent investigation into the Douma attack at the UN Security Council this week.
“So there is no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime,” she said.
The Western missile strikes demonstrate the volatile nature of the Syrian civil war, which started in March 2011 as an anti-Assad uprising but is now a proxy conflict involving a number of world and regional powers and a myriad of insurgent groups.