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Five things to know about the US-led strikes in Syria

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    The United States and allies have responded to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against the rebel-held town of Douma with missile strikes.

    US President Donald Trump announced he ordered air strikes in Syria “on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities”, in collaboration with the UK and France.

    Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, pledged to retaliate for what it described as a “fabrication” chemical gas attack.

    What is the objective of the attacks?

    According to President Trump, “the purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons”.

    A statement from the French presidency said it was part of the US-led strikes on Syria because “we cannot tolerate the recurring use of chemical weapons, which is an immediate danger for the Syrian people and our collective security”.

    “On April 7, dozens of men, women and children were massacred in Douma, with the use of a chemical weapon in a total violation of international rules. The red line established by France in May 2017 was crossed,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.

    How many missiles were fired?

    The United States and its allies waged more than 100 strikes on Syria in a “one time shot”, officials at the Pentagon said.

    US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Marine General Joseph Dunford said chemical weapons facilities were targeted by both missiles fired from the sea and from aircraft.

    The Pentagon could not confirm how many missiles hit their targets.

    According to a Syrian government official, around 30 missiles were fired in the attack, and a third of them were shot down.

    “We have absorbed the strike”, the official told Reuters news agency. “We had an early warning of the strike from the Russians … and all military bases were evacuated a few days ago.”

    What types of missiles were fired?

    The US used Tomahawk cruise missiles in its strikes in Syria, and taking aim at multiple targets in the country, a US official said.

    Tomahawks were used in previous US attacks in Syria last year in response to the use of chemical weapons in the rebel-held Khan Sheikhoun town of Idlib province.

    “According to unofficial sources, the US deployed several carriers with cruise missiles in the Mediterranean and Red Seas,” said Fuad Shahbazov, a security and military expert based in Azerbaijan.

    “Also possible attacks with fighter jets should be considered as the US has huge airbases in the Gulf countries.”

    What were the targets?

    Joseph Dunford, Washington’s top general, said the precision strikes hit three targets:

    A scientific research centre near Damascus that is allegedly connected to the production of the chemical weapons; a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs; a command post near the capital.

    “We specifically identified these targets to mitigate the risk of Russian forces being involved,” Dunford told reporters.

    He added that the US military advised Russia of airspace that would be used in the strike but did not “pre-notify them”.

    What is Russia’s response?

    Russia’s ambassador to the US warned that there would be consequences for the strikes, adding that it was not acceptable to insult Russia’s president.

    “A pre-designed scenario is being implemented,” Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said on Twitter.

    “Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences.”

    View the original article:

    “Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible. The US – the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons – has no moral right to blame other countries.”

    How can chemical attacks in Syria be stopped?

    Inside Story

    How can chemical attacks in Syria be stopped?

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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