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4 Children Among 9 Killed As Trump Orders Airstrikes in Syria

This is the first direct attack on the Syrian regime in the six years that the civil war has ravaged the country.

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The US military’s cruise missile strikes, ordered by President Donald Trump against a Syrian airbase controlled by President Bashar al-Assad's forces, have left nine people dead, including four children, a Syrian state news agency said on Friday. The attack is a response to a deadly chemical attack in a rebel-held area, a US official said on Thursday.

Facing his biggest foreign policy crisis since taking office in January, Trump took the toughest direct US action yet in Syria's six-year civil war, raising the risk of confrontation with Russia and Iran, Assad's two main military backers.

This is the first direct attack on the Syrian regime in the six years that the civil war has ravaged the country.
This 7 October 2016 satellite image released by the US Department of Defense shows Shayrat air base in Syria. (Photo: AP)
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Putin Calls Air Strike “Aggression Against a Sovereign Nation”

President Vladimir Putin believes that US cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base broke international law and have seriously hurt US-Russia relations, Russian news agencies cited the Kremlin as saying on Friday.

The Russian leader, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, regarded the US action as “aggression against a sovereign nation” on a “made-up pretext” and as a cynical attempt to distract the world from civilian deaths in Iraq, Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, was cited as saying.

“America Stands for Justice”

59 Tomahawk missiles were launched from US Navy warships in the Mediterranean Sea, the US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. A target was identified as an airbase in Homs. The fuel stations and aircrafts were also attacked.

Trump ordered the strikes just a day after he pointed the finger at Assad for this week’s chemical attack, which killed at least 70 people, many of them children, in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun. The Syrian government has denied it was behind the attack.

Trump issued a statement saying:

America stands for justice. Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behaviour have failed. It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council. 

Trump said that Assad “choked the lives of helpless men, women and children”. US informed Russian forces ahead of cruise missile strikes on Syria’s Shayrat Airfield, the White House said in a statement.

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“Russia Incompetent in Seizing Syrian Arms”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that US has “high degree of confidence to believe that Sarin nerve gas was used in the chemical attack”.

Russia failed to carry out 2013 agreement to secure Syrian chemical weapons and Moscow was either complicit or incompetent in its ability to carry out the agrement... We feel the strike itself was proportionate.
Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State
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Russia Informed of Strike

The White House said that sections of the airbase where Russian forces were believed to be were not targeted.

Rex Tillerson also said that approval from Moscow was sought before the attacks.

The US military said the initial indications are that the strike reduced the Syrian Government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.

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Losses on Syrian Air Base

A Syrian military source said a US missile strike on a Syrian air base had led to "losses."

"One of our air bases in the central region was exposed at dawn today to a missile strike by the United States, leading to losses," a Syrian state TV news flash cited the source as saying.

Syrian state TV said on Friday that "American aggression" had targeted a Syrian military base with "a number of missiles".

US military action puts the new president at odds with Russia, which has air and ground forces in Syria after intervening there on Assad’s side in 2015 and turning the tide against mostly Sunni Muslim rebel groups.

US missile strikes on Syrian military positions serve the goals of "armed terrorist groups" and Islamic State, said the governor of Syria's Homs province.

“Syrian leadership and Syrian policy will not change,” Homs governor Talal Barazi said in a phone interview with state television. “This targeting was not the first and I don’t believe it will be the last,” he added.
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Trump has until now focused his Syria policy almost exclusively on defeating ISIS militants in northern Syria, where US special forces are supporting Arab and Kurdish armed groups.

The risks have grown worse since 2013, when Barack Obama, Trump's predecessor, considered and then rejected ordering a cruise missile strike in response to the use of chemical weapons by Assad's loyalists.

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