Fury in Damascus, Moscow as U.S. Hits Syria Airbase with Dozens of Missiles

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

Damascus and its ally Moscow furiously condemned an American air strike on a Syrian airbase Friday that marked the first direct U.S. assault on President Bashar al-Assad's government.

U.S. allies rallied around Washington after President Donald Trump launched the massive strike in retaliation for a "barbaric" chemical attack he blamed on Assad.

But Assad's office called the strike "foolish and irresponsible" and Moscow announced a series of retaliatory steps including plans to strengthen Syrian air defenses.

Russia also demanded an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council and U.S. diplomats said it was to meet at 11:30 am (1530 GMT) on Friday.

The strike -- Trump's biggest military decision since taking office -- marked a dramatic escalation in American involvement in Syria's six-year civil war.

It followed days of outrage at images of dead children and victims suffering convulsions from the suspected sarin gas attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun.

U.S. officials said 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from warships in the Mediterranean at the Shayrat airfield at 3:40 am (0040 GMT), dealing heavy damage to the base from where Washington believes Tuesday's deadly attack was launched.

Syrian state news agency SANA said nine civilians including four children were killed in villages near the base.

"What America did is nothing but foolish and irresponsible behavior, which only reveals its short-sightedness and political and military blindness to reality," Assad's office said.

- Iran rejects 'bogus allegations' -

Damascus has denied using chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhun, where at least 86 people, including 30 children, were reported killed and more than 500 wounded.

With U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson due in Moscow next week, the Kremlin called the U.S. strike a "gross... violation of international law" and warned it would inflict "considerable damage" on U.S.-Russia ties.

It immediately suspended a deal with the United States aimed at avoiding clashes in Syrian airspace.

The Russian military also announced measures "to strengthen and improve the effectiveness of the Syrian armed forces' air defense system."

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, another staunch Assad ally, tweeted that the strike was based on "bogus CW (chemical weapons) allegations" and would aid jihadists like the Islamic State group.

Lebanon's Hizbullah, which has intervened in Syria on behalf of Assad, condemned what it said was a "vicious" attack on Syria's sovereignty.

"This foolish move by the Trump administration will be a major, dangerous source of tension in the region and will further complicate the situation around the world."

Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey all supported Washington, with Ankara also calling for a no-fly zone in Syria.

U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura announced the U.N.-backed ceasefire taskforce on Syria that is co-chaired by Moscow and Washington would meet later on Friday at Russia's request.

Trump announced the strike in a brief televised address delivered hours after the Security Council failed to agree on a probe into the suspected chemical attack.

"Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end this slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types," he said.

The missiles were fired from the USS Porter and the USS Ross.

- Opposition wants more strikes -

The strike targeted radars, aircraft, air defense systems and other logistical components at the base south of Homs in central Syria.

In a statement read on state television, the army confirmed the strike and said it had caused extensive damage.

Russia's military said the strike had an "extremely low" military impact, with fewer than half of the 59 missiles reaching the airbase.

The missiles destroyed six planes under repair and several buildings, including a storage depot and radio station, it said.

A Syrian military source said the armed forces had been warned in advance of the U.S. operation, without specifying by which party.

"We took precautions in more than one military point, including in the Shayrat airbase. We moved a number of airplanes towards other areas," the official told AFP.

Opposition and rebel fighters, who have for years urged more direct U.S. military action in support of their uprising, hailed the strike and called for more.

The National Coalition, the main opposition grouping, called on Washington to take further steps to "neutralize" the regime's air power.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a longtime foe of Assad, also called for more action.

"I welcome this concrete step as positive," said Erdogan.

"I don't see this as enough... the time has come for steps for a serious result to protect the oppressed Syrian people."

But the White House was quick to paint the decision as limited to deterring the use of chemical weapons, and not part of a broader military campaign.

"The intent was to deter the regime from doing this again, and it is certainly our hope that this has had that effect," said Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis.

- 'Enough killing and injustice' -

U.S. officials said Russia's military in Syria was informed of the strike beforehand in order to avoid casualties that could prompt a broader crisis.

Russia stood by Damascus this week despite the global uproar, insisting the chemical weapons that caused the deaths in Khan Sheikhun had been stockpiled by "terrorists" and possibly released by a conventional strike.

In Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern province of Idlib, residents still mourning their dead welcomed the U.S. strike as a way to pressure Damascus.

"God willing, these strikes will be a clear warning to Bashar al-Assad, to tell him: Bashar, enough killing and injustice against these people," said Abu Ali, a man in his 40s.

The Free Syrian Army and other rebel factions called for more strikes to "prevent the regime from using its airports and internationally-banned weapons against Syrians."

Trump had previously indicated no willingness to engage further in Syria's civil war, beyond stepping up efforts to battle the jihadists of IS, who have been targeted by U.S.-led air strikes in Syria and Iraq since mid-2014.

His administration had in fact signaled in recent days it was no longer seeking the Assad's departure from power.

But Trump said the "very barbaric attack" in which "even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered" had required a response.

Comments 35
Thumb thepatriot 07 April 2017, 05:45

Mastica 2 days ago "Trump just have to act tough, but in reality he will kiss Putin shoes anytime" LOL

Thumb ___flamethrower___ 07 April 2017, 13:12

hehaheha

Missing mohammad_ca 07 April 2017, 05:56

Wait for it ASSad will say "we will strike at the right time in the right place "

Thumb scorpyonn 07 April 2017, 08:34

Target the coward's palace and teach him a lesson- and go after those Islamic nuts in Tehran next.

Missing humble 07 April 2017, 08:42

The Butcher is a criminal. Anyone who supports a criminal is a criminal.

Thumb s.o.s 07 April 2017, 10:52

bravo Trump, so proud of him!

Thumb jabal10452 07 April 2017, 11:01

Too little.

Thumb justice 07 April 2017, 12:13

too late

Thumb gigahabib 07 April 2017, 11:54

Loooool, now Trump is a hero to all of those who hated him in the past.

I knew he would be nothing but a Zionist stooge. Anyone who thinks Syria suddenly did a chemical attack when they were winning the war is delusional or plain lying.

Thumb justice 07 April 2017, 12:13

the only zionists are you heretics. STFU and choke until the next cruise missile attack.

Thumb gigahabib 07 April 2017, 12:15

The Zionists are those who their bidding. Like you and other Wahhabi minions.

Thumb i.report 07 April 2017, 13:33

Mdr! May all the heretics like him sedate their children too.

Thumb gigahabib 07 April 2017, 14:42

No one says they didn't die. The question is what caused their deaths.

Thumb gigahabib 07 April 2017, 15:14

Sure, show me where I said that.

Thumb justin 07 April 2017, 15:42

gigahabib 54 minutes ago
No one says they didn't die.

hmmmm, well many body said they didn't die.

Mystic
It is you who need to seek help democrat, sedating children and putting gas mask on them, to put a show on for the mainstream media, is a dirty way to push your propaganda.

Mystic
Never said it was okay to Gas children, I believe these children were sedated for Nusra to push their propaganda and get sympathy from stupid westerners and people like you.

Mystic Yesterday

I feel it is sad too when they sedate children to serve their political and Salafi agendas, but you do use dirty tactics indeed in your circle.

Southern...... Yesterday

they are desparate, even they poison their own people to blame the govt for such devilish act.

Thumb gigahabib 07 April 2017, 16:35

Sorry, only the Mustaqbalis here have multiple aliases. I never said they didn't die, but nice try.

Default-user-icon Winifred (Guest) 07 April 2017, 12:28

Mowaten you are just being silly now, whatever you're smoking there put it down.

Missing mohammad_ca 07 April 2017, 12:38

anyone who believes that the rebels has chemical weapons and they didn't use them on the regime is an idiot.

Thumb Maxx 07 April 2017, 16:47

Gigahabib: Don't confuse our gladness that Baschar's war machine has had its capacity to murder left and right slightly curtailed with anyone thinking that pathetic orange piece of shoe-gum is suddenly a "hero".

Default-user-icon komisar (Guest) 07 April 2017, 12:24

Russia launches 9 missiles from ships in the Caspian sea towards Syria, four land in Iran. The US launches over 50 missiles from ships towards a Syrian airbase they all land in that airbase. Yo Vlad, that's how it's done.

Thumb galaxy 07 April 2017, 14:40

that's because they fell on his filthy russian drunken head.

Thumb Kompromat 07 April 2017, 21:31

Once a con artist always a con neo or otherwise. The Russian defense ministry ridiculous statement notwithstanding all but one hit their target, 36 cruise missiles don't just disappear in thin air Igor and trying to pass the old photos of the airbase as the after shots is even more laughable.

Missing theobserver 07 April 2017, 12:31

>Anyone who thinks Syria suddenly did a chemical attack when they were winning the war is delusional or plain lying.

So why reject a probe into the suspected chemical attack ?

Thumb ___flamethrower___ 07 April 2017, 13:12

hahaha

Thumb galaxy 07 April 2017, 14:00

why would the USA nuke Japan when they already won the war? because they can

Thumb i.report 07 April 2017, 13:33

Just got feedback, the people of northern city of Tripoli were drinking and dancing in the middle of the night on their beach as they saw 59 shooting stars heading towards Syria.

Some say they saw angels carrying huge spears flying over them!

Thumb Southern...... 07 April 2017, 13:38

"U.S. Launches Missile Strike on Syria Airbase":

by missiles!??? cowards.

they are scared to get closer, specially after all defeats and humiliations they reaped so far.

Thumb i.report 07 April 2017, 13:43

We are still awaiting your retaliation on Israël.

By misssiles!??? Cowards!!! They are scared to get closer, especially after the 2006 defeat and humiliatiions they reaped.

Law cuntu a3lam said the heretic in chief.

Thumb shab 07 April 2017, 22:55

lool

Missing mohammad_ca 07 April 2017, 13:51

What would have fathered they bomb the aircraft with? Bow and arrow masalan ?

Thumb galaxy 07 April 2017, 14:02

will bomb you moar mr roar

Thumb flamethrower-_ 07 April 2017, 15:13

As I've been saying all along, best president ever! Him, Le Pen and Putin will make a great team!

Thumb whyaskwhy 07 April 2017, 16:59

Trump is no Obama that's for sure and the message is not only for ASSad but Russia too.

Thumb shab 07 April 2017, 22:56

I'm so happy

Thumb s.o.s 07 April 2017, 23:53

So am I, had a smiley face all day.