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LIVE: US pounds Syrian airbase after chemical attack

LIVE: US pounds Syrian airbase after chemical attack
The US fired cruise missiles on Friday at a Syrian airbase, the first direct US assault on Assad in six years of civil war
  • US jets hit airfield "associated with" deadly nerve-gas attack against village in Idlib province earlier in week
  • Russia warns of damage to relations with the US
  • UK, Turkey, Israel, Gulf states all praise action against Syrian government

Live Updates

7 years ago

Britain's foreign minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday he had cancelled a visit to Moscow due to take place on April 10 after developments in Syria where a poison gas attack in a rebel-held area prompted the United States to launch missile strikes.

"Developments in Syria have changed the situation fundamentally," Johnson said in a statement.

7 years ago

The Syrian Civil Defence Force and the Idlib health directorate have released a fourth report documenting the loss of life from the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhun. 

Here's a summary of their initial findings:

  • 89 people killed (33 children and 18 women)
  • 541 people injured: All victims suffering from suffocation injuries
  • 54 people referred to Turkish hospitals 
7 years ago

The Iraqi government issued a statement in reaction to the events in Syria reflecting a difficult balancing act between its alliance with the United States and with Iran, a key backer of Assad.

The statement from Baghdad condemned the chemical attack, without naming Assad, calling instead for an international investigation to identify the perpetrator.

The statement also criticised "the hasty interventions" that followed the chemical attack, in an apparent reference to the U.S. strikes.

7 years ago

US officials told Buzzfeed News that it suspects Russia may have operated a drone and military aircraft which was used to bomb a hospital treating chemical attack victims.

"Military officials suspect that someone turned off the camera onboard the Russian unmanned drone just before the strike on the hospital Tuesday, effectively turning a blind eye to the attack. The officials did not make clear how the US was able to determine when the drone’s camera was recording."

Read more here...

7 years ago

Syrians living in refugee camps have expressed joy and elation after Donald Trump ordered a US Warship to fire more than 50 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian government airbase. 

Watch here...

7 years ago

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for an independent inquiry into the chemical attack which Trump used to justify his airstrikes against the Syrian government. 

He called for "an independent commission" by "impartial countries" into the claims. 

Speaking during a live televised broadcast, the Iranian president also said that "terrorists" were the only group applauding Trump's US airstrikes against Bashar al-Assad. 

"This man who is now in office in America claimed that he wanted to fight terrorism but today all terrorists in Syria are celebrating the US attack," Rouhani said in a speech aired by state television.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani takes part in a press conference near the United Nations General Assembly (Reuters)
7 years ago

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the US would soon impose additional sanctions on Syria, as part of a military, diplomatic and financial response to a chemical attack blamed on the regime.

"We will be announcing additional sanctions on Syria as part of our ongoing effort to stop this type of activity and emphasize how significant we view this," Mnuchin said from Trump's golf resort in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

"We expect that they will continue to have an important effect on preventing people from doing business with them," he added, without offering more details.

7 years ago

Two warplanes took off from a central Syrian air base Friday hours after it was struck by US missiles and bombed targets nearby, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the aircraft "took off from inside the Shayrat base, which is partially back in service, and struck targets near Palmyra".

According to the Pentagon, initial indications showed the strike had severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft, infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat.

The Syrian army in a statement said six people were killed at the base and that the attack caused "significant damage".

The SANA state news agency said four children were among nine civilians killed in surrounding villages. 

7 years ago

Russia's Defence Ministry notified the Pentagon it would close down at 2100 GMT the communications line used to avoid accidental clashes in Syria, Interfax new agency said.

7 years ago

The White House said on Friday that strikes on a Syrian airfield authorised by President Donald Trump send a strong signal to the world, but declined to say whether Trump would approve additional strikes or actions against the Assad government.

"I think that the president's actions were very decisive last night and were clear about what he thinks needs to get done," White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters at a briefing.

"First and foremost, the president believes the Syrian government, the Assad regime, should at the minimum agree to abide by the agreements they've made not to use chemical weapons. I think that should be a minimum standard set around the world," Spicer said.
US president Donald Trump (AFP)
7 years ago

Speaking at a UNSC meeting on Friday, Russia's permenant representative to the UN condemned the US's attack on Syria. 

"We strongly condemn the illigetimate actions of the US. The consequences of this could be extremely serious," he said. "The Syrian armed forces will continue to be the bane against terrorism."

"Washington, London and Paris, have this paranoic idea of overtherowing the legitimate government in Syria. This was clearly shown by the non-diplomatic actions and statements made by the UK."

"Stop putting forward these unpforessional accusation against my country; these are not diplomatic. They are lies," he said addressing the UK, US and France.

"Once again, I warn, don't try to get in inovled in fights in the Arab world," he added. "All Arab countries recall your colonial hypocrisy."

Russia called this emergency UNSC meeting following US strikes on Syria.

7 years ago

Speaking at a UNSC meeting on Friday, Egypt's permenant representative to the UN called for cooperation between all parties to avoid "further deterioration" in Syria.

"We are fed up with the statements of regret and condemnation," said Amr Abul Atta. "I insist that everyone abandon these disagreements and these altercations and to focus on the future on the way out of this Syrian maze."

"All parties...should support an immediate ceasefire and move forward...without preconditions."

"I would call on the US and the Russian move actively in this direction based on security council resolutions to reach a middle ground and political settlement in Syria."

7 years ago

US President Donald Trump's decision to order a missile strike on Syria brought rare criticism on Friday from French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who has until now viewed the American leader as an ideological soulmate.

The US strike reverberated through the French presidential election campaign, just two weeks before the first round of voting, with most leading candidates taking a cautious, or a critical, stance towards the US action.

"I am a little surprised because Trump had said repeatedly that he didn't intend the United States to be the world's policeman any longer and that is exactly what he did yesterday," Le Pen told France 2 television.

The United States fired cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase on Friday as punishment for a suspected chemical weapons attack on Tuesday which killed at least 70 people.

"Is it too much to ask to wait for the results of an independent international investigation (into Tuesday's attack) before carrying out this kind of strike?" Le Pen asked.

She said she didn't want a repeat of events in Iraq and Libya where she said Western intervention had "brought chaos and ended up strengthening ... terrorist organisations."

7 years ago

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday welcomed the US strike on an airbase of the Syrian government but said it was not enough and more action was needed.

"I want to say that I welcome this concrete step as positive," Erdogan, a longtime foe of President Bashar al-Assad, said in a rally in the southern city of Antakya just north of the Syrian border. 

"Is it enough? I don't see this as enough... the time has come for steps for a serious result to protect the oppressed Syrian people," he added.

US President Donald Trump ordered the missile strike in retaliation for the suspected chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Sheikhun in northwestern Syria's Idlib province that killed dozens and was blamed by many world leaders on Assad.

Erdogan reaffirmed his past calls that international community needed to impose a safe zone in northern Syria - which Ankara has said should be backed by a no-fly zone - to ensure security in the area.

"We again say how important it is for a terror-free safe zone to be created," he told thousands of supporters in the city.

He added: "I want to state something clearly: while children are being massacred in this world, no one has the right to feel themselves safe or in peace."