Defiant Trump warns missiles 'will be coming' over Syria attack

Lester Mason
April 19, 2018

A commander in the military alliance backing Assad said Jaish al-Islam's main leader in Douma, Issam al-Boudani, had departed in an evacuation convoy on Thursday. Trump has said publicly that sharing military plans could give enemies information they could use to their advantage. Western states are thought to be preparing for missile strikes in response to the alleged attack.

Russia has urged the US to avoid taking military action in response to an alleged chemical attack in Syria. He said at least one chemical was used - chlorine, which also has legitimate industrial uses and had not previously triggered a U.S. military response.

Assad's Damascus regime, which has long accused Washington of supporting its armed opponents in the country's bloody seven-year-old civil war, hit back at Trump's "reckless escalation".

Amid the talk of military action, the Kremlin, a close ally of Assad, countered that more "serious approaches" were needed to combat the crisis. While the U.S., France and Britain have the latest-technology cruise missiles, the presence of Russia's S-400 air defense system in Syria argues for caution.

Donald Trump on Saturday declared "mission accomplished" for a US-led allied missile attack on Syria's chemical weapons program.

President Bashar al-Assad's government denies mounting a chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma. Or it could have not had them. The Pentagon said it gave no explicit warning.

The attack has drawn worldwide condemnation.

How big will the strike be? There is no way to legalize it. The Kellogg-Briand Pact bans it, and the United Nations Charter bans it with narrow exceptions that have not remotely been met by any of the U.S. wars of the past 17 years.

Trump said the U.S. will respond to the Saturday attack within 48 hours at most, but a possible military move has been slowed down as the White House seeks to coordinate it with its allies, including France and the U.K. "I don't think our strategy would presume a political settlement", said James Carafano, vice president for foreign and defense policies at the Heritage Foundation.

France's President Emmanuel Macron says he has "proof" that the Syrian government attacked the town of Douma with chemical weapons last weekend.

Assad has denied his regime was responsible for the attack in Douma and Russia has claimed the incident was fabricated by rebels. He said later he hoped Syria's army and its allies would drive U.S. troops out of eastern Syria, and take Idlib in the northwest from rebels.

"If an attack occurs against the forces [in Syria] backed by Russia or there is an attack by the US-supported forces, Russia won't be able to stay away, otherwise it will lose its influence".

"Good souls will not be humiliated", Mr Assad tweeted, while hundreds of Syrians gathered in the capital of Damascus where they flashed victory signs and waved flags in scenes of defiance after the early morning barrage.

The British leader's office said Cabinet ministers "agreed on the need to take action to alleviate humanitarian distress and to deter the further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime".

In February 2013, the Government began a siege on the area, blocking major supplies of food and medicine while frequently bombarding it from land and air.

Dunford said the U.S. did not co-ordinate targets with or notify the Russian government of the strikes, beyond normal airspace "de-confliction" communications.

The red line was crossed, but Mr Obama refrained from action. "It's the ultimate slippery slope", Itani said.

U.S. intervention in Syria would exacerbate deteriorating relations with Russia, as Trump acknowledged Wednesday.

A team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is due to deploy to Syria "shortly" to determine whether banned weapons were used in Douma. They are in eastern Syria, far from Damascus.

In another tweet, Trump called the Syrian leader a "gas killing animal".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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