Syria Strike

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State

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President Trump on Friday announced that he has approved military strikes in Syria against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The announcement follows a suspected chemical gas attack from the Assad regime on a rebel-held town near the Syrian capital last weekend.

Trump's announcement immediately preceded reports of loud explosions lighting up the sky in Damascus.

Assad's actions, Trump said, "are not the actions of a man," but "are the crimes of a monster instead."

At least 40 people died in the attack in Douma, about 10 miles east of Damascus, and over 500 people, mostly women and children, were injured and brought to medical centers. The attack occurred amid a resumed offensive by Syrian government forces after the collapse of a truce. Syrian activists, rescuers and medics said families suffocated in their homes.

A similar chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017 that killed nearly 100 people prompted the U.S. to launch dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield to dissuade Assad from using chemical weapons in the future, officials said.

But during the weekend, images of dead and sick women and children again circulated following another alleged chemical attack.

In his statement, the president also hit Russia and Iran for their sustained support of the Assad regime.

"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," Trump asked.

"The nations of the world can be judged by the friends that they keep," he continued. "Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or continue with civilized nations."
 

State

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WASHINGTON — President Trump said he ordered precision missile strikes against the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad Friday night in a coordinated attack with U.K. and French allies.

Trump said the strikes were intended to deter the use of chemical weapons like the attack on civilians in the Syrian town of Douma last week, and that the U.S. was prepared to continue the attacks until the Syrian regime stops using chemical weapons.

The action comes almost a week after rebels in the beleaguered nation claimed Syrian forces under Assad killed more than 40 men, women and children in a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma.

"The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children writhing in pain and gasping for air," Trump said in a hastily arranged, eight-minute nationally televised address at 9:01 p.m.

Syria has denied using chemical weapons. French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that "we have proof" chlorine gas was used by Assad's regime. The internationally respected Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was scheduled to begin its own investigation in Syria on Saturday.


Trump, in the days after the attack, described the Syrian president as "that animal Assad" and ripped Russia and Iran for supporting him. Trump was further agitated when a Russian official promised that U.S. missiles would be shot down and the base or ships from which they were fired attacked.

"To Iran and to Russia, I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of men, women and children?" Trump said.

He accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of reneging on a 2013 promise to ensure that Assad would discontinue his chemical weapons program.

"Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or if it will join with civilized nations as a force for stability and peace," he said. "Hopefully someday we'll get along with Russia, and maybe even Iran, but maybe not."

Trump had telegraphed the attack in a series of statements and tweets throughout the week.

"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria," Trump responded on Twitter. "Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!' You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

More: French president claims 'proof' Syria used chemical weapons

More: Donald Trump says Syria attack could be soon or 'not so soon at all'

More: President Trump's options likely limited to cruise missiles, experts say

On Thursday, however, Trump walked his remarks back a bit, saying an attack "could be very soon or not so soon at all!"


Russia has also denied the use chemical weapons in Syria, accusing Britain on Friday of staging a fake attack in Douma. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said images of victims of the purported attack were staged with “Britain’s direct involvement, “ without providing evidence. Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, Karen Pierce, dismissed Konashenkov’s claim as “a blatant lie.”

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday repeated a common theme of the Trump administration: The U.S. goal in Syria is to defeat of the Islamic State while avoiding involvement in the brutal, seven-year civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven millions from their homes.

However, on Thursday afternoon, British Prime Minister Theresa May released a statement saying her government "agreed on the need to take action to alleviate humanitarian distress and to deter the further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime."

The British, the statement said, will keep working with the United States and France to determine an international response.

The strategic aim of the U.S. response, a former senior Defense official familiar with planning for the attack said, was to raise the cost of using weapons prohibited by international treaty and doubts in the minds of Assad's military officers the next time he orders a similar attack. The former official spoke on condition of anonymity, lacking authorization to speak publicly about planning.

Assad has repeatedly been accused of using chemical agents during the nation's devastating, seven-year civil war. A sarin gas attack a year ago killed more than 80 people in the town of Khan Shaykhun, and two days later Trump authorized launch of dozens of cruise missiles on a Syrian air base.

British and French forces had been expected to take part in the latest allied effort, including use of missiles. The use of allied, manned warplanes would require first destroying some of Syria’s air defenses, which include Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missiles. Those systems encircle Damascus and some of Syria’s larger bases.

Less than a month ago, Trump said he wanted to bring U.S troops home from Syria. The White House, however, quickly signaled a U.S. withdrawal is not imminent. Still, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, said Trump's "premature" declaration emboldened Assad.

On Friday, Trump said he remained committed to having other countries step up in the region so that U.S. troops can come home after defeating the Islamic State.

"America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria. Under no circumstances," he said. "We look forward to the day we can bring our warriors home, and great warriors they are."
 

State

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UK's Theresa May authorizes strikes on Syria
From CNN's Sebastian Shukla

UK Prime Minister Theresa May, in a statement, said that she has “authorised British armed forces to conduct co-ordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use.”

US Defense officials: Both US ships and aircrafts were used in the strikes
From Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne

Multiple US defense officials tell CNN that both US ships and aircrafts were used in the strikes in Syria.

State media says Syria is responding to strikes
From CNN's Robe Alhenawi

Syrian State TV is reporting that Syrian Air Defense was responding to "the American, British and French aggression against Syria."
 

State

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Washington (CNN)Top military officials, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, warned President Donald Trump during an afternoon meeting Thursday that he risks escalating US involvement in Syria if he goes forward with the type of aggressive bombing campaign he has pressed for over the past week, according to US and western officials briefed on the conversation.

Trump has pushed military leaders to develop plans for a sustained assault on Syrian regime targets in response to last weekend's chemical attack, the officials said. But Mattis and other members of the President's national security team cautioned Trump during the meeting that such a strategy could pull the US into direct conflict with Russia and Iran.

The resistance has upset Trump, who wanted to take quick action and feels like the options being presented to him don't go far enough, according to the officials.

Nevertheless, there is a view among Trump's national security team that the President's tweets earlier this week -- including one threatening US missiles "will be coming, nice and new and 'smart' " -- forced their hand and made some type of strikes inevitable. But there is an effort to calibrate the response, even as Trump is pressing his team to act.

"Once the President tweeted what he tweeted we have to go forward," one senior administration official said.
Messages are being passed to Moscow about the US and its allies' intentions to create a "lasting deterrent" against the use of chemical weapons again, according to one senior administration official. That includes conversations between Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his Russian counterpart.

"This is being done with great carefulness and a look as to how we engage," the official told CNN. "Nobody wants to start a war with Russia and Syria. At the same time the Syrians did what they did. So we have to answer the second without starting the first."

Trump huddled with his national security team for roughly 90 minutes Thursday, but the White House said soon after the meeting ended that no final decisions had been made. National security officials were expected to confer again on Friday at the White House, though press secretary Sarah Sanders indicated the session would be among deputy-level officials, not top-ranking aides. A delay in strikes after Trump publicly previewed them earlier this week could allow Syrian, Russian and Iranian forces to better prepare for them, multiple US officials said.

"We're continuing to have ongoing meetings and conversations here at the White House," Sanders said. "When we have any further developments within we'll developments, we'll let you know."

Speaking at a session of the United Nations Security Council on Friday, US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley described a deliberative process.

"This has been a very thorough approach," Haley said. "You don't rush decisions like this. If you rush decisions like this, you make a mistake."

Questions remain about a lack of firm evidence pinning the chemical attack on the Syrian regime, despite expressions of confidence from France and the UK. Mattis raised those concerns during Thursday's meeting at the White House, according to officials. Russia, meanwhile, claimed Friday to be in possession of "irrefutable evidence" the alleged chemical attack was a "staged incident," according to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Haley told reporters those claims were absurd.

"We know who did this. Our allies know who did this. Russia can complain all it wants about fake news, but no one is buying its lies and cover ups," she said.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Sanders indicated the US has "very high confidence that Syria was responsible and Russia also."

Both Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that the Syrian regime was likely responsible for the attack. Trump spoke with both leaders on Thursday evening. In his conversation with May, the two "agreed it was vital that the use of chemical weapons did not go unchallenged, and on the need to deter the further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime," according to May's office.

Despite foreign allies' expressions of confidence in the Syrian regime's culpability in the attack, US officials have not ventured that far in public. During Thursday's meeting at the White House, Mattis advised Trump to wait for more definitive proof before ordering strikes.
International observers with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have yet to reach the Damascus suburb of Douma, where the attack took place. The organization said they were due to arrive on Saturday.

Biological samples from the area of the alleged chemical attack have tested positive for chlorine and a sarin-like nerve agent, according to a US official familiar with the US analysis of the test results. A Western official told CNN that the results are not conclusive, but officials suspect the substance used in the attack was a mixture of chlorine, sarin and possibly other chemicals.

Medical sources and activists in Syria say following the alleged chemical attack last Saturday that blood, urine and hair follicle samples were smuggled in batches to Turkey during evacuations by the Syrian regime of rebel groups and their families. But the sources did not know what happened to the samples after they reached Turkey, and it's not clear if those were the biological samples analyzed by the US.

Appearing on Capitol Hill earlier Thursday, Mattis publicly raised his concerns about escalation in Syria. Russian and Iranian forces have bolstered Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad as he clings to power after a bloody seven-year conflict.

The US and Russia maintain a "deconfliction line" between the US al-Udeid air base in Qatar and Russia's Hmeymim military base in Syria to prevent conflicts. But an accidental US strike on Russian or Iranian positions could dramatically escalate tensions in the region.

"We are trying to stop the murder of innocent people. But on a strategic level, it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that," Mattis said in morning testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.

Speaking before a meeting with farm state lawmakers on Thursday morning, Trump said he and his team were closely monitoring events on the ground.

"We're looking very, very seriously, very closely, at that whole situation," the President said from the Cabinet Room. "We have to make some further decisions. So they'll be made fairly soon."

Trump's new national security adviser John Bolton has been ever-present in the deliberations, US officials said. He sat in the Oval Office with Trump last evening along with chief of staff John Kelly when Trump phoned May, and was the leading voice telling Trump to cancel a planned trip to South America to remain in the United States and monitor the Syria response.

In meetings this week, Bolton has relayed Trump's views that a more muscular response is needed. But he has viewed his role as ensuring Trump has all the necessary information to make an informed decision, according to an administration official.
CNN's Ryan Browne, Nick Paton Walsh and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.
 

ksupoke

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Assad was winning, he had nothing to gain from a chemical attack, Syrian rebels (to a great extent the Syrian rebels are isis) claim a chemical attack and the ‘civilized’ nations come to their aid. The MIC is alive and well and that (in the everlasting words of DDE) not a foreign country, is the greatest threat to our country ‘s security. Bolton is an awful choice and this looks like it has his prints all over it. For all Trump has done to improve economic conditions, whether you agreed or not with the how, this has the potential to undo it all.
 
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Bowers2

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Assad was winning, he had nothing to gain from a chemical attack, Syrian rebels (to a great extent the Syrian rebels are isis and are backed by, in addition to Russia and Iran) claim a chemical attack and the ‘civilized’ nations come to their aid. The MIC is alive and well and that (in the everlasting words of DDE) not a foreign country, is the greatest threat to our country ‘s security. Bolton is an awful choice and this looks like it has his prints all over it. For all Trump has done to improve economic conditions, whether you agreed or not with the how, this has the potential to undo it all.
So you don't believe a chemical attack even happened? Why do you choose to believe Russia, Assad, and Iran over our own intelligence? I think your whole MIC thing clouds thinking. We aren't "going to war." Chemical weapons were used and we couldn't risk looking weak by not doing anything. Interests and counter-interests.
 

State

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13 of 112 intercepted from what I've read
Sounds like Russia disinformation campaign. We launched 105 missiles.


Speaking alongside White, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, Director of the Joint Staff, provided details of the overnight military operation.

"We are still conducting a more detailed damage assessment, but initial indications, are that we accomplished our military objectives without material interference from Syria," McKenzie said.

McKenzie added that none of the aircraft or missiles involved in the operation were successfully engaged by Syrian or Russian air defenses.

"We are confident that all of our missiles reached their targets and at the end of the strike mission, all our aircraft returned safely to their bases," McKenzie said.

What's more, McKenzie said that more than 40 surface-to-air missiles were employed by the Syrian regime, but most of the launches occurred after the coalition strikes.
 

ksupoke

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So you don't believe a chemical attack even happened? Why do you choose to believe Russia, Assad, and Iran over our own intelligence? I think your whole MIC thing clouds thinking. We aren't "going to war." Chemical weapons were used and we couldn't risk looking weak by not doing anything. Interests and counter-interests.
I never said a chemical attack never happened I said it makes no sense that Assad would launch it, if I were looking to put this back on the front page and I were a rebel I can think of no better way to do it than to show a chemical attack on women and children. I can find plenty of pictures and videos that on the surface appear to be horrific but when looked at closer they don’t stand the scrutiny. Regime change driven by foreign countries has no history of ending well. BTW that was a billion dollar bill that now needs to be replenished, yes the MIC is very much alive and well, Trump is no different from any of them in that regard.
 

Bowers2

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I never said a chemical attack never happened I said it makes no sense that Assad would launch it, if I were looking to put this back on the front page and I were a rebel I can think of no better way to do it than to show a chemical attack on women and children. I can find plenty of pictures and videos that on the surface appear to be horrific but when looked at closer they don’t stand the scrutiny. Regime change driven by foreign countries has no history of ending well. BTW that was a billion dollar bill that now needs to be replenished, yes the MIC is very much alive and well, Trump is no different from any of them in that regard.
How do you know it makes no sense for Assad to do this? Wasn't aware you were an expert on the nuances of the Syrian Civil War. These arguments just make too many leaps in logic for me. I agree the MIC is a bad thing, but not everything is because of the MIC. You're saying Obama stood up to the MIC in 2013 when he decided against striking when Assad used these weapons then? The most simple answer is usually the one. Assad used chemical weapons for the umpteenth time and we couldn't look weak by not acting. It has to be enforced.
 

ksupoke

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How do you know it makes no sense for Assad to do this? Wasn't aware you were an expert on the nuances of the Syrian Civil War. These arguments just make too many leaps in logic for me. I agree the MIC is a bad thing, but not everything is because of the MIC. You're saying Obama stood up to the MIC in 2013 when he decided against striking when Assad used these weapons then? The most simple answer is usually the one. Assad used chemical weapons for the umpteenth time and we couldn't look weak by not acting. It has to be enforced.
It makes no sense because Assad, nor his backers, had anything to gain.
One month ago, Trump - give me an exit plan to where we are now - known war monger McCain criticizing Trump and even more well known war monger Bolton joins his staff - billion dollar missile strike. The only beneficiaries are the rebels and the MIC.
I could be wrong but that’s how I see it.
 

ksupoke

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Of course "at war" is a pretty broad term. Having the draft, and mobilizing our entire military, is a lot different than launching some drones or a few targeted air strikes. I would like to try not being the world's police for a while and see how it goes.
Since the first gulf war our entire military has been mobilized for the most part, the missile strikes of the wjc era not withstanding. If we were policing the row I wouldn't like it but I could kind of understand it, while vehemently disagreeing with it, but what we are doing is all out regime change and attempting to install our form of gvt (democracy, representative democracy, republic it really doesn't matter what you call it) and that never ends well and the only folks who ultimately benefit are those who make money off of war.
I don't blame any potus because I don't (think) it is the potus who initiates it, I think it's the money behind the potus and that is always special interests, and those special interests are always, specially interested, in money.
 
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