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Syria highlights: Mission accomplished, says Trump after air strikes, Assad vows to continue fighting terrorism

Syria's capital has been rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke as US President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country's alleged use of chemical weapons.

world Updated: Apr 14, 2018 23:59 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Washington
Syria strikes,US Airstrikes,Chemical attack
This picture taken on April 14, 2018 shows the wreckage of a building described as part of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) compound in the Barzeh district, north of Damascus, during a press tour organised by the Syrian information ministry.(AFP)

The United States, France and Britain on Saturday struck targets in Syria with airstrikes in retaliation for an apparent chemical weapons attack outside Damascus by Bashar al-Assad’s regime that had left more than 40 people dead last week.

Pentagon officials said the attacks targeted the heart of Assad’s programs to develop and produce chemical weapons.

“Good souls will not be humiliated,” Syria’s presidency tweeted after the airstrikes began.

Here are the LIVE updates:

11:50pm: UN Security Council rejects Russian resolution condemning ‘aggression’ against Syria by the US and its allies

10:31pm: U.S.-led strikes in Syria are an “important signal” to Iran, Syria and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, a senior Israeli cabinet minister said on Saturday.

10:30pm: Pakistan today expressed “grave concern” over the situation in Syria and urged all sides to follow the UN Charter and resolve the crisis in the war-torn country.

9:26pm: Saudi Arabia on Saturday extended support to the coordinated missile strikes by the US, Britain and France on military targets in Syria.

9:25pm: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that U.S.-led strikes on Syria were “unacceptable and lawless.”

9:25pm: The United States is “locked and loaded” to strike again if Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad’s government again uses chemical weapons, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Security Council on Saturday.

9:01pm: U.N. chief urges restraint, avoid escalation in Syria .

9:00pm: French Army head says two sites hit by strikes near Syria’s Homs were used to stick and assemble chemical weapons.

8:55pm: UN Security Council opens meeting at Russia’s request to discuss military strikes carried out by the US, France and Britain in Syria.

8:36pm: Algeria has criticized air strikes carried out by the United States, France and Britain against Syria, Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said.

8:35pm: Germany says only political solution will bring lasting peace to Syria.

7:49pm: The Pentagon says none of the missiles fired by the U.S. and its allies was deflected by Syrian air defenses, rebutting claims by the Russian and Syrian governments. The Russian military had previously said Syria’s Soviet-made air defense systems downed 71 out of 103 cruise missiles launched by the United States and its allies.

7:48pm: The Pentagon said it destroyed three chemical weapons facilities of the Syrian regime.

7:40pm: Strikes will set Syria chemical weapons program back ‘for years’ says Pentagon.

6:59pm: The Pentagon says that U.S. strikes in Syria overnight had successfully hit every target.

6:52pm: Pentagon says, has not seen any military response from actors in Syria since strikes.

6:51pm: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan welcomed U.S., British and French forces’ airstrikes on Syria, saying that the operation sent a message to Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.

6:47pm: India’s External Affairs Ministry says, “We have taken note of the recent strikes in Syria. India is closely following the situation. The alleged use of chemical weapons, if true, is deplorable. We call for an impartial and objective investigation by the OPCW to establish the facts says.”

6:02pm: US President Donald Trump tweets, “So proud of our great Military which will soon be, after the spending of billions of fully approved dollars, the finest that our Country has ever had. There won’t be anything, or anyone, even close.”

5:59pm:

5:44pm: Egypt said on Saturday it was deeply concerned over a military escalation in Syria which could affect the safety of Syrian people and threaten agreements to curb tension.

5:20pm: UNSC to meet at 1500 GMT on Syria strikes at the request of Russia.

5:13pm: Russia deputy foreign minister says Moscow in contact with US and other countries involved in Air strikes on Syria.

4:55pm: British Prime Minister Theresa May faced a backlash from the domestic opposition after launching military strikes Saturday on Syria without consulting parliament.

4:29pm: “The Fact-Finding Mission team of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will continue its deployment to the Syrian Arab Republic to establish facts around the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma,” the OPCW said in a brief statement.

4:20pm: Air strikes carried out by the United States, France and Britain against Syrian military targets could give terrorism an opportunity to expand in the region, the Iraqi foreign ministry said on Saturday.

4:19pm: Saudi Arabia on Saturday expressed its full support for US-led strikes on Syrian government military installations, saying they were a response to “regime crimes” against civilians.

4:07pm: Jordan says political solution is only way to gurantee Syria’ security and its territorial integrity.

3:30pm: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says, “This aggression will only make Syria and its people more determined to keep fighting and crushing terrorism in every inch of the country.”

3:16pm: China is opposed to the use of force in Syria, says foreign ministry. “We consistently oppose the use of force in international relations, and advocate respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says.

3:15pm: “Such attacks will have no result but more destruction ... the Americans want to justify their presence in the region by such attacks,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani quoted as saying by semi-official Tasnim news agency.

3:10pm: Security permitting, a team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will deploy briefly to the site where dozens of people were allegedly gassed on April 7, two diplomatic sources say.

3:00pm: French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says missile strikes destroyed a “large part” of the Damascus government’s stocks of chemical weapons. “More strikes possible if Syria uses chemical weapons again,” the minister adds.

2:35pm: A prominent Syrian rebel faction says Western strikes against government positions were a “farce” as long as President Bashar al-Assad remained in power. “Punishing the instrument of the crime while keeping the criminal -- a farce,” writes Mohammad Alloush, a key member of the Jaish al-Islam rebel group.

2:30pm: The French military fired 12 missiles during its air strikes on Syria, defence ministry officials say.

2:13pm: Russia may consider supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria and other countries, Russian Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoi says.

2:12pm: After technical analysis of open sources and “reliable intelligence”, France concludes that a chemical attack on Douma on April 7 was carried out by Syrian government forces, a declassified intelligence report shows.

2:10pm: The Russian military says Western allies fired 103 cruise missiles including Tomahawk missiles at Syria but that Syrian air defence systems managed to intercept 71 of them.

2:00pm: This (strikes) collective action sends a clear message that the international community will not stand by and tolerate the use of chemical weapons,” says British Prime Minister Theresa May, calling the military action “right and legal”.

1:55pm: “According to preliminary information, there were no victims among peaceful civilians and the Syrian military,” senior military officer Sergei Rudskoi says at a briefing in Moscow.

1:50pm: “The current escalation of the situation in Syria has a destructive effect on the whole system of international relations,” the Kremlin says.

1:49pm: British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn says Prime Minister Theresa May should have sought approval from parliament before ordering cruise missile strikes against Syria. “Bombs won’t save lives or bring about peace. This legally questionable action risks escalating further,” Corbyn, a veteran anti-war campaigner, says.

1:46pm: The European Union will stand with our allies over Syria strikes, says Donald Tusk, president of the European Council.

1:45pm: Germany backs necessary and appropriate military intervention in Syria, says Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Syrians wave the national flag and wave portraits of President Bashar al-Assad as they gather at the Umayyad Square in Damascus to condemn the strikes carried out by the United States, Britain and France against the Syrian regime. (AFP photo)

1:30pm: Russian President Vladimir Putin says strike on Syria by US and its allies will exacerbate humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.

1:15pm: “Russia is calling an emergency session of the UN Security Council to discuss the aggressive actions of the US and its allies,” the Kremlin says in a statement.

1:10pm: “Russia severely condemns the attack on Syria where Russian military are helping the lawful government in the fight with terrorism,” the Kremlin says.

12:50pm: “US allies will not gain any achievements from crimes in Syria. Attacking Syria is a crime. US president, UK prime minister and the president of France are criminals,” Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says in a speech cited by Iranian TV.

12:43pm: Missile strikes against Syria have had a significant impact on what the government of President Bashar al-Assad can do in the future, Britain’s defence secretary Gavin Williamson says.

12:30pm: Emphasising that the strikes are directed at the Syrian regime, Mattis says in conducting these strikes, the US has gone to great lengths to avoid civilian and foreign casualties. “But it is time for all civilised nations to urgently unite in ending the Syrian civil war by supporting the United Nations backed Geneva peace process.”

12:10pm: The US has “a large body” of evidence indicating that the Assad regime was responsible for the April 7 chemical attack in Duma and that Syrian military officials coordinated the attack, the White House says.

12:05pm: Russia has not used its air defence systems in Syria in response to Western air strikes targeting the Damascus regime, news agencies quoted the defence ministry as saying.

12:00pm: “Canada supports the decision by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to take action to degrade the Assad regime’s ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against its own people,” Trudeau says.

11:35am: France wants to start working right now on resuming the political process aimed at ending the conflict in Syria, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says.

11:32am: Turkey welcomes strikes on Syria as appropriate:, says its foreign ministry.

11:30am: The Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah praises the Syrian air defence for confronting the attack and says a US war against Syria and “resistance movements” will fail to achieve its objectives.

11:25am: Hundreds of Syrians gather at landmark squares in Damascus, honking their car horns, flashing victory signs and waving Syrian flags in scenes of defiance that followed the airstrikes. “We are your men, Bashar,” they shouted.

A Syrian soldier holds up his weapon during demonstrations. (AP Photo)

11:20am: The Western attack on Syria will not have any impact on the Syrian army’s resolve to press the fight against militants and restore control of the entire country, the Syrian foreign ministry says.

11:07am: The French military targeted Syria’s main chemicals research centre as well as two other facilities, French defence minister Florence Parly says. “We are not looking for confrontation and refuse any logic of escalation, that is the reason why we, with our allies, ensured the Russians were warned beforehand,” Parly adds.

11:05am: Syria condemns ‘brutal, barbaric aggression’ by Western powers. A statement carried by state news agency SANA says the strikes aimed to block a probe by the OPCW global chemical watchdog into an alleged gas attack outside Damascus. The attack “aims at hindering the mission’s work and pre-empting its results,” says the statement quoting a source at the Syrian foreign ministry.

11:00am: Syria represents the “most serious threat” to international peace and security, says UN chief Antonio Guterres. “I have been following closely the reports of air strikes in Syria conducted by the US, France and the UK. There’s an obligation, particularly when dealing with matters of peace and security, to act consistently with the Charter of the United Nations and with international law in general. The UN Charter is very clear on these issues,” he says.

10:55am: Russian lawmaker Vladimir Dzhabarov says Russia is likely to call for a meeting of the United Nations security council to discuss the air strikes: RIA news agency.

A picture released by the French Defence audiovisual communication and production unit shows the launching of a cruise missile from a French military vessel in the Mediterranean sea towards targets in Syria on Friday night. (AFP Photo)

10:50am: French defense minister says Russia was warned ahead of joint US, UK, French military attacks on Syria. French foreign minister says joint military operation is legitimate, limited and proportionate.

10:45am: “More than 100 cruise missiles and air-to-land missiles were fired by the US, Britain and France from the sea and air at Syrian military and civilian targets,” the Russian defence ministry says in a statement quoted by RIA Novosti news agency, adding that “a significant number” were shot down by Syrian air defences.

10:35am: US-led strikes have enforced a red line set for President Bashar al-Assad on the use of chemical weapons, an Israeli official says. “Last year, President Trump made clear that the use of chemical weapons crosses a red line. Tonight, under American leadership, the United States, France and the United Kingdom enforced that line,” Israeli official says.

10:25am: UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres calls for restraint and for countries to avoid any acts that could escalate the situation in Syria.

10:18am: “The United States and its allies have no proof and, without even waiting for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to take a position, have carried out this military attack... and are responsible for the regional consequences,” says Iran foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi on his Telegram channel.

Syrian people protest against US-led air strikes in a street in Damascus, Syria , on Saturday. (Reuters photo)

10:15am: “I support the actions taken by the United States, the United Kingdom and France... This will reduce the regime’s ability to further attack the people of Syria with chemical weapons,” head of NATO, secretary general Jens Stoltenberg says.

10:13am: “We cannot tolerate the normalisation of the use of chemical weapons,” says French President Emmanuel Macron.

10:12am: British Prime Minister Theresa May says she had authorised British forces to conduct precision air-launched cruise missile strikes on Syria to degrade its chemical weapons capability, saying there was no alternative to military action.

10:10am: US, British and French air strikes are a violation of international law and are likely meant to prevent investigators from the global chemical weapons watchdog from doing their work, a senior Russian lawmaker says.

10:08am: Russian ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov says Russia has warned that “such actions will not be left without consequences” and “all responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.” He adds that “insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.”

10:06am: Syrian state-run TV says three civilians have been wounded in the US-led missile attack on a military base in Homs.

10:05am: Sites hit in the US-led strike in Syria included an air base west of Damascus near the Lebanese border, a commander in the regional military alliance that backs President Bashar al-Assad says.

The sky lights up with service to air missile fire as the US launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of Damascus, early on Saturday. (AP Photo)

10:00am: Syrian state media slams Western strikes as illegal and doomed to fail. “The aggression is a flagrant violation of international law, a breach of the international community’s will, and it is doomed to fail,” said state news agency SANA.

9:55am: The Russian defence ministry says none of the strikes had hit areas near to Russia’s air and naval bases.

9:50am: Russia’s foreign ministry says Western strikes on Syria came as the country had “a chance of a peaceful future.” Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook: “Those behind all this claim moral leadership in the world and declare they are exceptional. You need to be really exceptional to shell Syria’s capital at the moment when it had gained a chance of a peaceful future.”

9:45am: Human rights watchdog Amnesty International says air strikes on Syria should “minimise harm to civilians” and urged US President Donald Trump to take in Syrian refugees. “The people of Syria have already endured six years of devastating attacks, including chemical attacks, many of which amount to war crimes,” Raed Jarrar, advocacy director for Middle East North Africa at Amnesty International USA says.

What we know so far:

*The strikes were aimed at “chemical weapons infrastructure” in what the US billed as a warning against Assad employing such weapons in the future -- a warning he has not heeded in the past.

*They targeted a scientific research facility in the Damascus area, a chemical weapons storage facility west of the city of Homs and a third location that contained both a command post and a chemical weapons equipment storage facility in the same area, the US military said.

*US, British and French “naval and air assets” took part in the strikes, which US defense chief James Mattis said employed more than twice the amount of munitions used in American strikes in Syria last year, in which 59 Tomahawk missiles were fired.

*Britain’s defense ministry said that four Tornado jets fired Storm Shadow missiles, while the French defense ministry released video footage of Rafale warplanes taking off to carry out the strikes.

*Syria fired surface-to-air missiles in response to the attacks but Russia apparently did not, the US said, despite a threat from the country’s ambassador to Lebanon that Moscow’s forces would do so.

First Published: Apr 14, 2018 10:07 IST