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LIVE: Trump says 'mission accomplished' after US, UK, France strike Syria

LIVE: Trump says 'mission accomplished' after US, UK, France strike Syria

The US, UK and France, have hit Syria overnight with air strikes, targeting three of Syria's main chemical weapons facilities with over 100 missiles.

The attacks, which had been largely expected, came in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Douma, outside of Damascus, last weekend. 

It's the biggest intervention yet by Western powers against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

Reactions are coming in from Damascus' allies and enemies alike - follow today's developments with us here. 

Feel free to leave comments and news tips below; we're also on Twitter @MiddleEastEye and Facebook.

Photo: Syrian soldiers inspect the wreckage of a building described as part of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) compound in the Barzeh district, north of Damascus (AFP)

Live Updates

6 years ago

At the UN security council meeting in New York, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia blasted the US and its allies in showing a "blatant disregard for international law". The Russian ambassador described the US-led strikes on Syrian as "hooliganism". Here are some of his other points:

  • The ambassador reiterated Russian and Syrian claims that the chemical attack in Douma was perpetrated by "foreign intelligence agencies"
  • The US is shedding "crocodile tears" over the suffering of Syrian civilians, Nebenzia said, adding that their "aggressive actions contribute to the worsening situation" in Syria
  • He also said that the attacks undermined the UN charter and the UN-led bid to broker a political solution in Syria
  • Quoting a statement from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Nebenzia said that the US "panders to the terrorists that have been tormenting the Syrian people for years"
  • He further criticised the US and its allies for acting before a fact-finding mission of the OPCW had arrived to investigate the chemical attack in Douma

Russia's ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzya arrive at the UN meeting on Saturday (AFP)

6 years ago

Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, told MEE, he is "very disappointed" with the limited nature of the overnight air strikes on Syrian government targets.

The military strikes mustn’t stop until the regime and its allies accept a political course -  other than that, there will be no solution to the Syrian crisis

"It seems that this strike is similar to Shayrat [attack] a year ago, as it stopped immediately, and not as part of a strategic Western alliance outside the security council to end the Syrian regime ability to kill the Syrian people with chemical weapons, warplanes, and barrel bombs, by destroying its air-bases, and all the killing machines," he said.

"The military strikes mustn't stop until the regime and its allies accept a political course -  other than that, there will be no solution to the Syrian crisis.

"We expected that this military strike will be used to achieve political progress, and that will not happen with a weak strike. We are very disappointed."

6 years ago

Britain and France have defended their contribution to military strikes on Syria last night as necessary to prevent the use of chemical weapons.

Britain's envoy to the UN, Karen Pierce, said it "cannot be illegal to use force to prevent the killing of such numbers of innocent people".

France's Ambassador Francois Delattre said there was "absolutely no doubt about the Assad regime's responsibility" for chemical weapons attacks last weekend in Douma.

The British ambassador called for a return to peace talks in Geneva, a complete end to the Syrian government's chemical weapons programme and said that those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable.

6 years ago

The United States is "locked and loaded" to strike again if Assad's government again uses chemical weapons, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Security Council.

"We are confident that we have crippled Syria's chemical weapons programme. We are prepared to sustain this pressure, if the Syrian regime is foolish enough to test our will," she said.

"If the Syrian regime uses this poison gas again, the United States is locked and loaded," Haley said. 

"We cannot stand by and watch Russia trash every international norm that we stand for," she added. 

6 years ago

The UK government has released a summary of its legal ground for the strikes on Syria last night. Leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn had earlier today written to the Prime Minister Theresa May calling on her to do so.

The UK's legal argument rests on three conditions which it says permit it "under international law, on an exceptional basis, to take measures in order to alleviate overwhelming humanitarian suffering".

Firstly, it says that "there is convincing evidence, generally accepted by the international community as a whole, of extreme humanitarian distress". Secondly, there must be no other alternatives to military action. And thirdly, the forces must be proportionate.

The UK says it believes all three conditions have been met.

There full text of the legal summary is available here.

6 years ago

The Pentagon has given a press briefing on last night's strikes on Syrian chemical facilities. General Kenneth McKenzie described the strikes as "precise, overwhelming and effective". Here are some of the key points from the briefing:

  • 105 weapons were launched against three targets in Syria, from US cruisers, submarines and bombers and from British and French jet aircraft and a French warship
  • US Pentagon official says the strikes have "crippled" the Syrian chemical weapons programme and set it back "for years"
  • There was no indication that Russia anti-air units were involved in targeting the missiles, General McKenzie said
  • The US believes Syria fired 40 unguided anti-air missiles at US and allied cruise missiles but none were successfully shot down
  • British Tornado bombers were escorted by RAF Eurofighter Typhoon jet aircraft
  • The Pentagon has not seen any response from Syrian or Russian forces to the strikes
  • But General McKenzie said they were "postured" for any retaliation, whether from the Syrian government or its allies

U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. speaks during a news briefing at the Pentagon (AFP)

6 years ago

The United Nations Security Council will meet at 11am (15:00 GMT) on Saturday at Russia's request after US, British and French forces conducted air strikes on Syria involving more than 100 missiles.

6 years ago

US President Trump has taken to Twitter to hail a "perfectly executed strike" on Syrian chemical facilities.

He also thanked France and the UK for their contribution to the attacks.

"Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!" Trump said.

6 years ago

British Prime Minister Theresa May needed to act with speed when she ordered a missile attack on Syria and she will update parliament on Monday, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told BBC radio.

Britain joined the United States and France on Saturday in what May cast as a "limited and targeted" strike.

All crews from the Royal Air Force Tornado jets returned safely, Williamson said. When asked if there would be more military action against Syria, Williamson said he thought the Western strikes had so far had sufficient effect. 

He earlier told LBC radio that the strikes have had a significant impact on what the government of President Bashar al-Assad can do in the future.

When asked if the West was now in a new Cold War with Russia, Williamson said relations with Moscow were at a low point but he wanted the Kremlin to use its influence with Assad to end the Syrian civil war.

6 years ago

The overnight strikes on Syria were not about regime change or intervening in Syria's civil war, British Prime Minister Theresa May has said, stressing that they were about "deterring the barbaric use of chemical weapons". 

May said that intelligence and open source reports indicate that it was "highly likely" that the Syrian government was responsible for the gas attack on Douma last week.

She also hit out at Russian claims that the UK government had helped staged the gas attack. She called the claims "grotesque and absurd" and cited the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March, which the UK and its allies claim Russia was behind, as part of Russia's "pattern of disregard for international laws".

Russia, which has been a staunch ally of the Syrian government, denies being behind the attempted killing of the Skripals.

"The use of nerve agent on the streets of UK in recent weeks was part of a pattern of disregard for these norms," she said.

"This will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity."

6 years ago

The Syrian opposition has criticised the strikes overnight a "farce" as long as President Bashar al-Assad stays in power and said the strikes did not go far enough.

"Punishing the instrument of the crime while keeping the criminal - a farce," wrote Mohammad Alloush, a key member of Jaish al-Islam, the rebel group that was in control of Douma at the time of the alleged chemical attack that prompted the response from the US and others.

The strikes would not stop Assad from killing civilians with conventional weapons, other opposition groups said. 

Nasr al-Hariri, president of the mainstream Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC), said Assad would keep using other deadly weapons. 

SNC member Hadi al-Bahra said the strikes sent a message to the Syrian regime, but not a strong enough one.

"The rocket attacks today sent one message to Assad: 'You cannot continue to kill Syrian children with chemical weapons, use only conventional weapons' - a shame on humanity," he said.

6 years ago

The Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has called the UK's military action in Syria "legally questionable".

In a statement on Facebook on Saturday morning, Corbyn said that "bombs won't save lives or bring about peace" and that the PM should have put the strikes to a parliamentary vote. 

The Green Party co-leader, Caroline Lucas, also criticised the air strikes on Syria overnight and echoed Corbyn in saying Theresa May was merely following US President Donald Trump. 

Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the SNP, said that "the question that the PM has not answered is how this action, taken without parliamentary approval, will halt their use or bring long term peace," adding that, "Air strikes have not resolved situation in Syria so far - nothing I've heard persuades me they will do so now."

But the DUP, the Conservatives' partner in the minority government, said they supported the military action, which the UK undertook overnight alongside the US and France. 

DUP MP Nigel Doods, according to the Belfast Telegraph, said: "The prime minister has the full authority, on the basis of all the information at her disposal, to order the type of military action which has been carried out this morning and we reject any suggestion that she was not entitled to do so."

6 years ago

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has offered his first response to the strikes that happened overnight, saying they have only strengthened his side's resolve to continue fighting against their opponents.

In comments made to Iranian president and ally Hassan Rouhani over the phone and published by Assad's office he said: "This aggression will only make Syria and its people more determined to keep fighting and crushing terrorism in every inch of the country."

Rouhani in response said: "The aggression will have destructive repercussions on the region," according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

6 years ago

The Syrian army has claimed to have shot down most of the missiles fired at chemical facilities overnight.

According to state news agency SANA, the General Command of the Army and Armed Forces said that 110 missiles were fired last night but Syrian air defences had "confronted, with high competence" the missiles and shot down "most of them". What missiles got through caused limited material damage, he went on to say.

Russia's defence ministry also made that claim, according to the Russian TASS news agency, saying that Soviet-era anti-air defences used by Syrian forces had shot down most missiles.

The French military said that it had launched 12 missiles and it had no indication any had been intercepted. British officials have said StormShadow cruise missiles launched from RAF Tornado Jets had been used in its contribution to the strikes. UK Defence Minister Gavin Williamson said the strikes had been highly successful.

Russia's senior military officer Sergei Rudskoi at a briefing showing strike sites (AFP)

6 years ago

Regional leaders have responded with an unsurprising mix of views on the strikes targeting Syria overnight.

Iran, a staunch ally of the Syrian government, called the US-led strikes a crime that would not achieve any gains.

"Today's dawn attack on Syria is a crime. I clearly declare that the president of the United States, the president of France and the British prime minister are criminals," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader said.

Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan said: "The Syrian people will certainly answer these attacks and the people of the world should condemn this aggression," Fars news agency reported.

Israel, on the other hand, which itself has carried out targeted strikes in Syria, expressed its backing for the action.

"Last year, President Trump made clear that the use of chemical weapons crosses a red line. Tonight, under American leadership, the United States, France and the United Kingdom enforced that line," said an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Syria continues to engage in and provide a base for murderous actions, including those of Iran, that put its territory, its forces and its leadership at risk."

Iraq called this morning on Arab states to "take a clear position" on the Syrian strikes at a summit to take place in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

The Lebanese group Hezbollah, also an ally of Syria, said in a statement that: "The war that America is waging against Syria ... will not realise its goals."