'Mission Accomplished' says Trump about strikes
"A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!" tweeted Trump on Saturday.
At about 4 a.m. local time on Saturday, the three countries launched missiles from planes and ships targetting military facilities in Syria alleged to be used to facilitate chemical weapons attacks.
"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!" Trump separately tweeted.
Trump also ordered Tomahawk missile strikes in April 2017 at an airbase believed to be used to launch chemical attacks against Khan Sheikhoun. Trump claimed those strikes destroyed 20 percent of Syria’s air force.
US President Donald Trump arrives to address the nation on the situation in Syria April 13, 2018 at the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo: Mandel Ngan | AFP
Khamenei labels Trump, Macron and May as 'criminals'
The Grand Ayatollah and Supreme Leader in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei, told ambassadors of Islamic countries in Tehran on Friday that the United States, United Kingdom, and France committed "crimes against Syria" and criticized their "false claims" of the use of chemical weapons in the country, according to Iran's state-run IRNA news agency.
He called "the President of the United States, the President of France, and the British Prime Minister criminals."
He added that the reason for the presence of Iran in Syria was to help and assist Syrian forces resist "terrorists" and cope with being killed by the United States, the West, Saudi Arabia, and their "mercenaries."
Khamenei also pointed to the West's hypocritical support for Saddam Hussein who "used chemical weapons to martyr or injure thousands of Iranians and Iraqis."
The United States "will definitely fail in its goals in the region," stated the Supreme Leader.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (left) speaks in Tehran with Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani and Iran's judiciary chief Hojatoleslam Sadegh Ardeshir Larijani (right) attending. Photo: Khamenei's office via AFP
NATO members to hold session on Friday
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization announced that it will convene in Brussels on Friday to discuss the situation in Syria.
This comes after its Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated he supported the actions taken by the United States, United Kingdom and France on Saturday morning.
"This will reduce the regime’s ability to further attack the people of Syria with chemical weapons," he stated.
Stoltenberg again condemned "Syria's continued use of chemical weapons as a clear breach of international norms and agreements."
"The use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, and those responsible must be held accountable ... This calls for a collective and effective response by the international community," he added.
PM May: Decision to launch not taken lightly
“This is the first time as prime minister that I have had to take the decision to commit our armed forces in combat – and it is not a decision I have taken lightly,” said British Prime Minister Theresa May in a televised address.
She spoke by telephone with French President Emmanuel Macron prior to the decision for "coordinated and targeted strikes" by the two countries and their US ally.
“I have done so because I judge this action to be in Britain’s national interest. We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised within Syria, on the streets of the UK, or anywhere else in our world. We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none," May said.
She argued that Britain “sought to use every possible diplomatic channel."
“But our efforts have been repeatedly thwarted. Even this week the Russians vetoed a Resolution at the UN Security Council which would have established an independent investigation into the Douma attack," the premier added.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson described the strikes as "highly successful," noting that all airmen flying the Tornado warplanes returned safely.
“We’ve been working to make sure the targeting and the strikes have an enormous effect. It’s our belief the action we’ve taken has degraded their ability to act in the future," he said.
Germany's Merkel: Airstrikes were 'necessary and appropriate'
"We support the fact that our American, British and French allies — as standing members of the UN Security Council — have upheld their responsibilities. The military intervention was necessary and appropriate in light of the international action being forewarned. The Syrian regime is warned of further transgressions," read a statement released by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's office.
She called a recent chemical attack "detestable" that "took the lives of children, women, and men."
Berlin blamed the government in Damscus and its backer Russia for inaction and not heeding warnings.
"All knowledge at hand pointed to the Assad regime's responsibility, and in the past many previous chemical attacks against their own people have taken place. Russia several times used its UN Security Council veto to block a resolution," said Merkel.
"These actions had the goal to target facilities of the regime restricting their capability producing chemical weapons," she added.
The leader rejected German military intervention against Syria on Thursday.
Russia calls for UN Security Council meeting after US, allies' strikes
The Kremlin stated the United States and its allies' strikes against the Syrian Arab Republic were not sanctioned by the UN Security Council, and thus in violation of the UN Charter, norms and principles of international law.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's office called it "an act of aggression against a sovereign state which is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism."
Moscow called "the staging of the use of poisonous substance" against civilians a "pretext," reiterating that Russian military experts have visited Douma and did not find any traces of chlorine or other poisonous substances.
Russia, as a permanent member, also has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the aggressive actions of the US and its allies in Syria.
Turkey welcomes strikes
"We welcome this operation which has eased humanity’s conscience in the face of the attack in Douma, largely suspected to have been carried out by the regime," read a Turkish foreign ministry statement.
It called the response "an appropriate response" in light of "the chemical attack" in Douma.
Ankara stated the Syrian regime "has been tyrannizing its own people for more than seven years, be it with conventional or chemical weapons, has a proven track record of crimes against humanity and war crimes."
It called it essential for the international community, including the UN Security Council, to ensure the use of chemical wepaons "does not go unpunished."
State news: Syrian air defenses downed 'most' of the 110 missiles
The General Command of the Syrian Arab Army announced that "most" of the 110 missiles fired by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Britain were shot down, according to the country's state-run agency, SANA.
Some missiles hit a research center in Barzzeh in Damascus, but these damages were described as "limited to material ones."
Three civilians in Homs were killed by missiles "forced to deviate from their track," the military claimed.
SANA quoted the military as saying, "this aggression will lead to nothing, but to increase the Syrian people determination to defend the sovereignty, dignity and the security of homeland and citizens."
British warplanes strike Homs base
Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s launched Storm Shadow missiles at a military facility in Homs, claiming its where the regime stockpiled chemical weapons.
"The reprehensible use of chemical weapons in Douma is further evidence of the Syrian regime's appalling cruelty against its own people. We will not stand by whilst innocent civilians, including women and children, are killed and made to suffer," stated British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.
British, American, and French forces launched their coordinated strikes at 4 a.m. (Damascus time).
"Let these united actions send a clear message to the regime – the use of chemical weapons is categorically unacceptable and you will be held to account," added Williamson.
France: The Russians were warned
"We are not looking for confrontation. And we refuse any idea of a military escalation. This is the reason why with our allies, we ensured that the Russians were warned ahead of time," said France's Defence Minister Florence Parly.
She revealed the operation combined navy and air force.
"Multi mission frigates accompanied by building and support protection have been deployed on the Mediterranean Sea. At the same time, an aerial raid left, at the beginning of the night from several aerial bases in France to reach the Syrian coasts. These different means launched, in perfect coordination, cruise missiles on planned targets, this in close synchronisation with our American and British allies," explained Parly.
She was speaking at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Jean Yves le Drian.
The French Defence Ministry has releases a video of missiles being launched from a navy ship and stills of fighter jets taking off from an unspecified base. Video: AP
"This night at 0300 a.m. Paris time (0100GMT), by the order of the President of the Republic, the French military forces, in close coordination with American and British military, have launched an operation in Syria," he said. This operation targeted objectives belonging to the clandestine chemical programme of Syria.
"The main research centre of this programme and two important production sites have been struck. Through these targets, it is the capacity of Syria to develop, to produce, chemical weapons that has been hit."
US: Strikes targeted 'chemical weapons research, development, production
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the strikes were conducted "with our allies to destroy the Syrian regime's chemical weapons research development and production capability."
He called the strikes a “one time shot."
Mattis claimed Washington, Paris, and London went to great length to avoid "civilian and foreign casualties."
He described the strikes as "harder" than last year in Khan Sheikhoun, when "the Assad regime did not get the message."
"Together we have sent a clear message to Assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable," said Mattis.
President Trump repeatedly warned of strikes if actions in the United Nations stalled.
"But it is a time for all civilized nations to urgently unite and ending the Syrian civil war by supporting the United Nations-backed Geneva Peace Process," said the defense head.
The government of Assad condemns the attacks
"The tripartite aggression showed again the recklessness of the hostile countries with the international legitimacy," Syria's state-run SANA new agency reported, citing an unnamed official source at the foreign ministry.
The source blamed the aggression on "western arrogance" and the "failure of the conspiratorial project" after the Syrian Arab Army defeated "terrorist organizations."
Damascus, the capital city of Syria, is shown on the morning of April 14, 2018 after strikes by France, the UK, and the US. Video: AP
Western powers strike Assad regime targets in Syria
US President Donald Trump ordered precision and unilateral strikes against the Syrian Air Force early on Saturday morning.
Trump addressed the American people from the White House after the strikes were ordered.
"The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons. Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States.
The event was described as a combined American, British and French "response to atrocities" via military, economic, and diplomatic instruments.
Strikes in Damascus against Assad regime targets on April 14, 2018. Video: AP
"We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents," said Trump.
The three Western members of the UN Security Council allege the regime was responsible for a chemical attack in Douma on April 7 that killed around 50 people. Independent investigations by each reach the same conclusion with Russia denying the presence of chemical agents in the town.
Behnam Ben Taleblu, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies sees the strikes as a deterrent and action against Iranian influence.
"Well one hopes that this strike will have both political and military impact on the Assad regime as well as Assad's foreign backers, which the president mentioned, Russia and Iran, as well as the various Shiite militias that are rampant in buoy Assad's forces across the country," Taleblu told AP.
Taleblu hinted there may be more actions against the regime.
"In reality because the strike was a signal of resolve against Assad and limited to the chemical weapons production, procurement, development facilities, it's likely that there will need to be future mowing of the grass, if I have to be so frank, to deter Assad, both to deter Assad at home as well as to deter Russia and Iran from continuing to bolster the Assad regime," he added.
Russia and Iran have been Baathist President Bashar al-Assad's primary backers, who the Western powers blame for allowing the alleged chemical attacks in Douma and previously elsewhere.
"To Iran, and to Russia, I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children?" posited Trump.
US General Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there were no plans for further operations and reiterated they took steps to avoid hitting any military assets of Russia.
After the UN Security Council failed to come to a resolution regarding alleged chemical attacks in Douma by Assad, Syria promised on Friday to defend itself.