US, al­lies bomb Syria

CityPress - - News - Reuters –

West­ern pow­ers said yes­ter­day their mis­sile at­tacks struck at the heart of Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons pro­gram, but the re­strained as­sault ap­peared un­likely to shift the course of the seven-year-old civil war.

The US, France and Bri­tain launched 105 mis­siles overnight in re­tal­i­a­tion for a sus­pected poi­son gas attack in Syria a week ago. They tar­geted what the Pen­tagon said were three chem­i­cal weapons fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing a re­search and de­vel­op­ment op­er­a­tion in Da­m­as­cus’ Barzeh dis­trict and two in­stal­la­tions near Homs.

The bomb­ing was the big­gest in­ter­ven­tion by West­ern coun­tries against Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad and his su­per­power ally Rus­sia, but the three coun­tries said the strikes were lim­ited to Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons ca­pa­bil­i­ties and not aimed at top­pling As­sad or in­ter­ven­ing in the civil war.

The air attack, de­nounced by Da­m­as­cus and its al­lies as an il­le­gal act of ag­gres­sion, was un­likely to al­ter the course of a multi-sided war in which at least half a mil­lion peo­ple have been killed.

“We be­lieve that by hit­ting Barzeh in par­tic­u­lar we’ve at­tacked the heart of the Syr­ian chem­i­cals weapon pro­gram,” Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Ken­neth McKen­zie said at the Pen­tagon.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump called the op­er­a­tion a suc­cess on Twit­ter and pro­claimed: “Mis­sion ac­com­plished.”

How­ever, McKen­zie ac­knowl­edged el­e­ments of Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons pro­gram re­main and he could not guar­an­tee that Syria would be un­able to con­duct a chem­i­cal attack in the fu­ture.

Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov said ear­lier yes­ter­day the strikes were “un­ac­cept­able and law­less”.

Syria re­leased video of the wreck­age of a bombed-out re­search lab, but also of As­sad ar­riv­ing at work as usual, with the cap­tion “Morn­ing of re­silience”.

Ten hours af­ter the mis­siles hit, smoke was still ris­ing from the re­mains of five de­stroyed build­ings of the Syr­ian Sci­en­tific Re­search Cen­ter in Barzeh, where a Syr­ian em­ployee said med­i­cal com­po­nents were de­vel­oped.

There were no im­me­di­ate re­ports of ca­su­al­ties.

Rus­sia had promised to re­spond to any attack on its ally, but the Pen­tagon said no Rus­sian air de­fence sys­tems were used. Syria fired 40 un­guided sur­face-to-air mis­siles - but only af­ter the West­ern strikes had ended, the Pen­tagon said.

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