France aims to relaunch Syria peace process after 'legitimate' strikes

France aims to relaunch Syria peace process after 'legitimate' strikes

The U.S., France and the United Kingdom launched an overnight strike on multiple Syrian targets Saturday, in response to Bashar Assad regime's chemical attack a week ago.

Sen. John McCain, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said: "I applaud the President for taking military action against the Assad regime for its latest use of chemical weapons, and for signaling his resolve to do so again if these heinous attacks continue". It was "the crimes of a monster instead".

Syrians wave Iranian, Russian and Syrian flags during a protest against USA -led air strikes in Damascus, Syria April 14,2018.

The French military targeted Syria's main chemicals research centre and two chemical production facilities overnight, officials said, adding that the air strikes were over but the military was ready to act upon request.

Russian Federation entered Syria's civil war in 2015 and has backed the Assad regime. That April 2017 attack consisted of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Pentagon also employed the B-1 strategic bomber.

"The US - the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons - has no moral right to blame other countries", he added.

A team of inspectors from the OPCW arrived in Syria on Thursday and Friday and had been expected to start their investigation into the alleged Douma attack on Saturday. Trump said he was prepared to sustain the response until Assad's government stopped its use of chemical weapons.

"Nothing is certain in these kinds of matters. We greatly regret this", he said. "It was done on targets that we believed were selected to hurt the chemical weapons program".

The French air force has been active in Syria since 2015 to fight Islamic State.

Washington, Paris and London have nevertheless insisted that their own secret intelligence points to Assad's guilt, and on Friday, a U.S. spokeswoman said they had "proof".

Many politicians in Britain, including some in May's own Conservative Party, had backed his call for parliament to give the authority for any military strike.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May was more cautious, but by the time the first precision cruise missile was launched, Trump had a mini-coalition.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime was suspected of orchestrating a chlorine attack against the rebel-held town of Douma, near the capital of Damascus, earlier this month. Specifying the age of the systems appeared to be a slap at President Donald Trump who had boasted on Twitter that missiles used against Syria would "nice, new and smart". Upwards of a quarter million people have died, by some estimates.

Russian Federation has reacted with displeasure.

Mattis, who US officials said had earlier warned in internal debates against too large an attack that would risk confrontation with Russian Federation, described the strikes as a "one time shot" to dissuade Assad from "doing this again".

The strikes - the strongest concerted action yet by Western forces in Syria - were launched at 9 p.m. ET, as most of Europe and the Middle East was shrouded in darkness.

In a televised address, Trump said that the objective of the strikes was to "establish a strong deterrent" against the use of chemical weapons, and suggested that the strikes could continue beyond Friday, warning that the USA was ready to "sustain this response", if needed.

But Mrs May also drew a link with the nerve agent attack on Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

U.S. aircraft including B-1 bombers and ships were used in the attack, United States defence officials said.

Four Royal Air Force Tornado jets using Storm Shadow missiles had taken part in the attack on a military facility near Homs where it was assessed Syria had stockpiled chemicals, Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

"A significant body of information including intelligence indicates the Syrian regime was responsible for this attack", she said. The Syrian government has accused Washington of seeking to use it as a pretext for attacking.

Photo Vasily A. Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, exchanged harsh words with the American ambassador at a Security Council meeting on Friday.

Upward of 500,000 people are thought to have died in the seven-year Syria civil war, a conflict that has also driven millions from their homes. Neither that strike, nor Friday's, was done with Congressional approval.

In a statement he published as May was speaking, Corbyn described the decision to take military action as "legally questionable" and one which risked further escalating an already devastating conflict.

The Prime Minister said she will go before the Commons on Monday to answer questions about her decision but insisted there was no "alternative path". This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very bad regime.



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