Syria strikes: All the latest updates

The US, UK and France have launched strikes “on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities” in Syria, US President Donald Trump announced early on Saturday.

The strikes come after a suspected chemical weapons attack in the former rebel stronghold of Douma last weekend.

Here are all the latest updates on the strikes:

Dutch PM ‘understands’ US-led strikes
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says his government “understands” the military action of the three NATO allies in Syria because “the use of chemical weapons is a serious crime the international community cannot accept”.
In an early-morning reaction on his Twitter and Facebook feeds, Rutte said it was likely that the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad was behind the suspected chemical attack in Douma.

Russia did not engage its air defence assets in Syria during strikes
The Russian military said Syria’s air defence shot down 12 cruise missiles aimed at Syrian air base east of Damascus. The ministry said that altogether more than 100 cruise and air-to-ground missiles were launched by the US, UK and French aircraft and naval shifts. It did not mention the overall number of missiles intercepted by Syrian forces.

Syria’s Assad shown arriving for work in presidency video
The Syrian presidency posted a video that appeared to show President Bashar al-Assad arriving for work on Saturday hours after a US-led strike on Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapon attack.
“The morning of resilience,” declared a caption accompanying the video circulated on the presidency’s Telegram feed, which showed Assad walking into the building.

Turkey welcomes strikes on Syria 
The Turkish foreign ministry said it welcomed the US-led strikes on Syria, calling it an “appropriate response”, Reuters news agency reported, citing a foreign ministry source.

Syria: Strikes will not affect army in any way
“The barbaric aggression … will not affect in any way the determination and insistence of the Syrian people and their heroic armed forces,” state news agency SANA cited an official source as saying.
“This aggression will only lead to inflaming tensions in the world” and threatens international security, it added.

Russia: Most missiles fired at Syria were intercepted
Russia’s defence ministry said that the majority of the missiles fired on Syria by the US, UK and France were intercepted by Syrian government air defence system, TASS news agency reported.

France: Russia warned before strikes
France’s defence minister said Russia was warned before the joint US, UK and French military strikes against Syria.
“We are not looking for confrontation and refuse any logic of escalation, that is the reason why we, with our allies, ensured the Russians were warned beforehand,” Defence Minister Florence Parly told reporters on Saturday.

France: Strikes were legitimate, limited and proportionate
France’s foreign minister said the joint military operation against Syria is legitimate, limited and proportionate.

Key quotes from Trump’s address on Syria:
“A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is now under way. We thank them both.”
“Last Saturday, the Assad regime again deployed chemical weapons to slaughter innocent civilians – this time in the town of Douma, near the Syrian capital of Damascus. This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime.”
“The evil and the despicable attack left mother 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.”
“The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons.”
“To Iran and to Russia, I ask: what kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?”
“America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria under no circumstances.”
“The United States will be a partner and a friend, but the fate of the region lies in the hands of its own people.”

Five things to know about the US-led strikes in Syria
According to US President Donald Trump, “the purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons”.
The US and its allies launched more than 100 strikes on Syria in a “one-time shot”, officials at the Pentagon said. According to a Syrian government official, around 30 missiles were fired in the attack, and a third of them were shot down.
The US used Tomahawk cruise missiles in its strikes in Syria, which were fired at multiple targets in the country, a US official said.
Joseph Dunford, Washington’s top general, said the “precision strikes” hit three targets: A scientific research centre near Damascus that is allegedly connected to the production of the chemical weapons; a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs; a command post near the capital.
Russia’s ambassador to the US warned that there would be consequences for the strikes, adding that it was not acceptable to insult Russia’s president.

Iran: Strikes are ‘flagrant violation of international law’ 
Iran’s foreign ministry has said the strikes against Syria by the US, UK and France are a “flagrant violation of international law” that “ignores sovereignty of Syria”, Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV said.
UN chief urges restraint after strikes on Syria
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on UN member states “to show restraint in these dangerous circumstances and to avoid any acts that could escalate the situation and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people”.
“Any use of chemical weapons is abhorrent. The suffering it causes is horrendous. I have repeatedly expressed my deep disappointment that the Security Council failed to agree on a dedicated mechanism for effective accountability for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. I urge the Security Council to assume its responsibilities and fill this gap,” he added.

Iran warns of ‘regional consequences’ of strikes
The Iranian foreign ministry strongly condemned the strikes against Syria by the US, UK and France.
It also warned of their regional consequences, Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV said.

US Democratic leaders cautiously welcome decision on strikes
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer called the strikes “appropriate”, but said, “the administration has to be careful about not getting us into a greater and more involved war in Syria”.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said: “One night of air strikes is not a substitute for a clear, comprehensive Syria strategy.”

US Republican leaders praise Trump’s decision on strikes
US House Speaker Paul Ryan praised Trump’s “decisive action in coordination with our allies”, adding: “We are united in our resolve.”
Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman John McCain applauded the strikes but says “they alone will not achieve US objectives in the Middle East.”

Syria state TV: Strikes targeting position in Homs were thwarted 
“The missiles that targeted a military position in Homs were thwarted and diverted from their path, and injured three civilians,” state news agency SANA said.

Syria state TV: Only material losses at research centre near Damascus
Syrian state media said that the US-led strikes caused material damage at a scientific research centre in the Barzeh district of Damascus.
The attack destroyed a building that includes a learning centre and laboratories, state TV said.

Strikes in Syria did not hit areas near Russian bases: Moscow
The Russian defence ministry said that none of the rockets launched in the Syria attack entered the zones where Russian air defence systems are protecting facilities, Russian press agency TASS reported.

Protesters in Damascus rally against US-led strikes: reports 
Protesters are rallying in Damascus against the US, UK and French military action in Syria, Lebanese media are reporting.

Amnesty urges Trump to take in Syrian refugees 
Amnesty International warned that air strikes on Syria should “minimise harm to civilians” and urged Trump to take in Syrian refugees.
“All precautions must be taken to minimise harm to civilians in any military action,” Raed Jarrar, advocacy director for Middle East North Africa at Amnesty International USA, said in a statement on Saturday.
“The Trump administration must not turn its back on the suffering of men, women, and children by continuing to ban refugees from entering the United States. It is time for the US to reopen our doors to people trying to escape from the violence in Syria,” Jarrar added.

Russia: ‘Pre-designed scenario is being implemented’
Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the US, said on Twitter that Russia “warned such actions will not be left without consequences”.
“A pre-designed scenario is being implemented,” he tweeted, adding “again, we are being threatened”.

Washington informed Tel Aviv of attack: sources
US officials informed Israel of the timing of the attack, Israeli sources say.

Pro-Assad official: Targets evacuated prior to attack
The Syrian government evacuated the targeted sites days ago thanks to a warning from Russia, a senior official in a regional alliance that backs Damascus told Reuters news agency.
“We had an early warning of the strike from the Russians … and all military bases were evacuated a few days ago,” Reuters quoted the official as saying.
The official added that around 30 missiles were fired in the attack, saying “we are carrying out an assessment of the material damages”.

NATO chief: I support actions of US and allies
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he supported the actions taken by the US, UK and France against Syria.
“I support the actions taken by the United States, the United Kingdom and France against the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons facilities and capabilities. This will reduce the regime’s ability to further attack the people of Syria with chemical weapons,” Stoltenberg said in a statement on Saturday.

Syrian opposition leader: All attacks on civilians must stop
Syrian opposition leader Nasra al-Hariri called for the end to all attacks against civilians in Syria.
“Maybe the regime will not use chemical weapons again, but it will not hesitate to use weapons the international community has allowed it, such as barrel bombs and cluster bombs,” Hariri said in a tweet early on Saturday.

Russia: Syria hit as country had ‘chance for peaceful future’ 
Russia’s foreign ministry says Syria was attacked at the very moment the country had a “chance for a peaceful future”, Russian news agency RIA reported.
Maria Zakharova, the ministry spokeswoman, wrote on Facebook: “Those behind all this claim moral leadership in the world and declare they are exceptional. You need to be really exceptional to shell Syria’s capital at the moment when it had gained a chance of a peaceful future.”
The foreign ministry also said that Western media has some responsibility for the attack on Syria, which was based on its reports, according to RIA.

‘Three targets hit’
Joseph Dunford, Washington’s top general, said the precision strikes hit three targets – a scientific research centre near Damascus, a storage facility and command post also near the capital and a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs.

US top general: US did not notify Russia of targets
Washington’s top general, Joesph Dunford, said Russia’s forces in Syria had been warned through existing “deconfliction” channels that Western planes would be in Syrian airspace, but that Washington had not revealed the target sites or timing in advance.

US chairman of joint chiefs of staff: First wave of attacks ends
US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford announced the first wave of attacks has ended.

Syrian state media says US-led strikes hit army depots
Syrian state media called the attacks by the US, France and the UK “a flagrant violation of international law”, adding that the attacks had targeted army depots in the Homs area.

Russia warned ‘such actions won’t be left without consequences’
The Russian ambassador to the US said in a statement on the strikes that Russia warned that “such actions will not be left without consequences”.

Mattis: ‘Right now, this is a one-time shot’
“Right now, this is a one-time shot, and I believe it has sent a very strong message,” US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said.

Syrian state TV: Syrian air defences responded to attack
Syrian state TV reports that Syrian air defences responded to the strikes by the US, UK and France.

Explosions heard in Damascus
As Trump announced the strikes, explosions were heard from Damascus, Reuters news agency reported.

Emmanuel Macron confirms France’s involvement
French President Emmanuel Macron has confirmed France’s involvement in the strikes.

UK’s Theresa May: Strikes meant to ‘deter the use of chemical weapons’
UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed Britain’s involvement in the strikes, saying: “We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none.”
She said the strikes were not about “regime change” or “intervening in a civil war”, but were to “deter the use of chemical weapons” by the Syrian government.

Trump: ‘I ordered precision strikes’
“I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad,” Trump said from the White House late on Friday.
The purpose of the campaign is to “establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,” the US president said.



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