US, France, UK retaliate after Syria chemical attack, launch strikes

The Foreign Ministry says facts presented by Russian investigators indicated that the purported attack was a "premeditated and cynical sham".

Trump said he was prepared to sustain the response until Assad's government stopped its use of chemical weapons. The alleged use of chemical weapons, if true, is deplorable.

Trump on Friday night announced that a coordinated attack on the Syrian regime, launched with British and French allies, was underway.

He notes that Russian Federation in the past refrained from providing Syria with its state-of-the-art S-300 air defense missile systems on Western prodding but could reconsider it now.

At least six loud explosions were heard in Damascus in the early hours of Saturday and smoke was seen rising over the Syrian capital, a Reuters witness said.

"So there is no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Regime".

Russia, whose forces are bolstering Syria's government, had threatened military retaliation if any Russian personnel had been hit.

Residents in Damascus were caught off guard by the strikes, independent reporter Danny Makki told NPR, speaking from Damascus.

"Last year the focus was on the delivery, this time the strikes went to the very heart of the enterprise, to the research, to development, to storage", Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

Although Syria's military had moved aircraft and other military assets in the days preceding Friday's strike, Dunford said he did not believe it had moved chemical weapons materials.

In a televised statement for state media, the Syrian military said the attacks would not diminish the army's resolve to press the fight against all remaining militants in the country.

The US defence secretary, James Mattis, had expressed concerns that air strikes could lead a situation "escalating out of control".

Russian Federation has countered that the US-led action was aimed at overthrowing Assad and keeping Moscow's influence in check.

In response to a Russian military claim that Syria's Soviet-made air defence systems downed 71 of 103 cruise missiles launched by the US and its allies, a Pentagon official stated retorted that none of the missiles involved in the operation were brought down by Syrian forces.

The strikes appeared to have taken place far from Russia's bases near the Syrian coast.

The measure would provide for the creation of an inquiry to identify perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks, allow access for aid convoys and re-launch stalled peace talks in Geneva, French diplomats said. Russian Federation deployed the operation during the 2016 US elections.

"Without the sanction of the UN Security Council, in breach of the UN charter and the norms and principles of global law, an act of aggression was committed against a sovereign state", the Kremlin said.

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