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U.S. missiles strike at Syria base 

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Re: U.S. missiles strike at Syria base 

Post by Bruce72 on Fri 07 Apr 2017, 03:32

It's a simple equation. Use chemical weapons, and you will pay the price.

I wish Trudeau had the balls to attack Assad.

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U.S. missiles strike at Syria base 

Post by Bruce72 on Fri 07 Apr 2017, 03:29

The United States fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Thursday night in retaliation for this week's gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians, U.S. officials said. It was the first direct U.S. assault on the Syrian government and Donald Trump's most dramatic military order since becoming president.

The strikes hit the government-controlled Shayrat airbase in central Syria, from where U.S. officials say the Syrian military planes that dropped the sarin gas Tuesday had taken off. The 59 Tomahawk missiles launched from the USS Ross and USS Porter in the Mediterranean Sea hit Syria at 3:45 a.m. local time.

Trump said Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad "launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent," in a recorded statement released after the cruise missiles became public knowledge.

"There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council," Trump said, calling it a "targeted" airstrike.

The attack killed some Syrians and wounded others, Talal Barazi, the governor in Homs, told The Associated Press. He didn't give precise numbers.

Barazi said "I don't believe it will be the last," in reference to the strike, but stressed, "Syrian leadership and Syrian policy will not change."

The head of the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the early Friday missile attack damaged over a dozen hangars, a fuel depot and an air defence base.

A Kremlin spokesperson said Russian president Vladimir Putin sees the airstrikes as an act of "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law," with a similar statement issued from Iran.

A Russian parliamentarian said they would call for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday. 

Britain, Australia, Israel and Saudi Arabia expressed support for the military action, with France saying it was informed ahead of time that the U.S. would act.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Global Affairs said Canada supported "efforts to stop these atrocities," with more comment to come Friday.

"Canada continues to condemn in the strongest of terms chemical weapons attacks against Syrian civilians. We have been in touch with our U.S. counterparts," the statement read.

Change of tune on Assad

The U.S. assault marked a striking reversal for Trump, who warned as a candidate against the U.S. being pulled into the Syrian civil war that began six years ago.

Just last week, the Trump administration signalled the U.S. was no longer interested in trying to push Assad from power over his direction of a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and led to the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

Trump and his top aides had acknowledged in recent days the "reality" of Assad being in power, saying his ouster was no longer a priority.

But the chemical weapons attack seemed to spur a rethink.

"It was a slow and brutal death for so many," Trump said of the attack in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province. "Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack."

Trump said deterring chemical attacks was in the "vital national security interest of the United States."

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement the U.S. had a "high degree of confidence" that sarin gas was used in Tuesday's attack.

Trump's decision to attack Syria came 3½ years after Barack Obama threatened Assad with military action after an earlier chemical weapons attack killed hundreds outside Damascus. Obama had declared the use of such weapons a "red line."

At the time, several American ships in the Mediterranean were poised to launch missiles, only for Obama to abruptly pull back after Britain and the U.S. Congress balked at his plan.

Could complicate quagmire

It's unclear what authority Trump is relying on to attack another country. When Obama intervened in Libya in 2011, he used a UN Security Council mandate and NATO's overall leadership of the mission to argue that he had legal authority — arguments that many Republicans opposed. Trump can't rely on either justification here.

In Syria, the Obama administration largely pulled back from its support for so-called "moderate" rebels when Russia's military intervention in September 2015 led them to suffer a series of battlefield defeats. Instead, Obama sought to work with Russia on a negotiated transition.

Trump called on "civilized nations" to join U.S. but it's unclear whether he is adopting any broader effort to combat Assad.

The assault risks plunging America into the middle of Syria's conflict, complicating the safety of the hundreds of U.S. forces fighting a separate campaign against the Islamic State group in the north of the country.

Russia and Iran, Assad's allies, pose other problems. Russian military personnel and aircraft are embedded with Syria's, and Iranian troops and paramilitary forces are also on the ground helping Assad fight the array of opposition groups hoping to topple him.

The strike came even as Trump was hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida for dinner as part of a two-day meeting focused in part on another pressing U.S. security dilemma: North Korea's nuclear program.

"This clearly indicates the president is willing to take decisive action when called for," Tillerson said.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Trump was presented with three options by military advisers Thursday for retaliating against the Syria attack.

Russians, Syrians at base notified first

Tillerson called the strike "proportionate" and branded Syria ally Russia as "complicit or incompetent" with respect to a 2013 agreement in which all chemical weapons were to be removed from the Syrian government. The remarks come just days before he heads to Russia, the first visit by a Trump administration official.

Several lawmakers on Capitol Hill weighed in, with House Speaker Paul Ryan characterizing the response as "appropriate and just."

Veteran senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have often been critical of Trump in his first two months as president, called the action a "credible first step," but stressed the need for "following through with a new, comprehensive strategy in co-ordination with our allies and partners to end the conflict in Syria."

Ted Cruz, Texas senator and Trump rival last year for the Republican nomination, expressed sympathy to "Assad's victims" and stressed the "eight years of failures" of the Obama administration in Syria.

Cruz said Trump will have to make the case to Congress and the American public that the administration's policy going forward is "justified as protecting the vital national security interests of America."

Lawfulness, constitutionality questioned

Some Democratic senators offered qualified or full support.

Dick Durbin of Illinois said he was briefed by the White House and believed it to be a "measured response to the Syria nerve gas atrocity," but that a consensus would have to be built down the road depending on the intervention.

Bill Nelson of Florida expressed his support on Twitter: "I hope this teaches Assad not to use chemical weapons again."

Republican senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democrat senator Tim Kaine, however, were among those stating that Trump was acting contrary to the constitution by not seeking congressional approval.

"Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer and Syria will be no different," Paul said.

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