By Joe Brown | United States
Who Was Involved?
On Friday night, President Trump announced that a coordinated military strike had been made in Syria by a coalition consisting of American, British, and French forces. In a separate White House address, he said: “Today, the nations of Britain, France, and the United States of America have marshaled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality.”
Following Trump’s statement, UK Prime Minister Theresa May released a statement confirming that she had “authorized British armed forces to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use.”
French involvement was confirmed on Friday night as well, when the country’s President: Emmanuel Macron, said that a “red line set by France in May 2017 has been crossed. So, I ordered the French armed forces to intervene tonight, as part of an international operation in coalition with the United States of America and the United Kingdom and directed against the clandestine chemical arsenal of the Syrian regime.”
What Was Hit?
U.S. officials had previously specified that strikes would be targeting suspected centers of chemical weapon development. The coalition has confirmed that three sites were specifically targeted.
- A scientific research center located in Damascus
- A military storage facility west of Homs
- And a military command post outside of Homs
Multiple Syrian state sources report that the Mazzeh military Airbase and the Damascus International Airport were also targeted, though these claims are denied by the coalition. There are also reports of damage to civilian infrastructure in the capital of Damascus, a city that is home to nearly 2 million people.
Russia’s Defense Ministry stated that the majority of coalition missiles were intercepted by Syrian defense systems. At a news conference in Moscow on Saturday, Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy said at least 103 cruise missiles were fired into a number of targets in Syria, with 71 of them being successfully downed by Syrian forces.
Are the Strikes Over?
Trump stated that his administration was “prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.” However, he emphasized that “America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria.”
Senior officials from the Pentagon also said that “this wave of airstrikes is over,” but maintained that the American military was prepared for prolonged involvement in the region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin released a statement on Saturday saying the Kremlin “seriously condemns” the attack on Syria, which he called an “act of aggression against a sovereign state … at the forefront of the fight against terrorism.” He maintained that these attacks were done “without the sanction of the United Nations Security Council, in violation of the UN Charter, norms and principles of international law,” and that Russia was calling for an immediate UN Security Council meeting.
Sweden’s Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. confirmed that an emergency meeting will begin Saturday morning.
Despite the attacks, a Senior U.S. official involved with counter-terrorist initiations in Syria said that Russian and pro-regime Syrians were showing no signs of aggression towards American or coalition forces.
Members of the coalition, including the leaders of America, the UK, and France, have all claimed that these attacks were done in response to the chemical attacks in Douma just this past weekend. Despite an international uproar regarding the nature of the attacks, there remains to be no substantial evidence that the Assad regime was the true perpetrator. U.S. Secretary of Defense General John Mattis, confirmed this before the coalition attacks, saying that there was “no evidence” connecting the chemical attacks to the Syrian government.
Russian and Syrian forces maintain that the chemical attacks were instigated by members of the rebel insurgency.
An investigation was scheduled to be conducted by United Nations Weapons Inspectors on Saturday, at the same sites demolished by coalition forces.