Archive | April 8th, 2017

US rep shocks CNN anchor by questioning Syria gas attack narrative

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CNN anchor Kate Bolduan was flabbergasted after Representative Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) questioned a recent chemical gas attack in Syria, then said it wouldn’t be in President Bashar Assad’s interest to conduct such a strike on his own people.

Bolduan interviewed Massie, a tea party darling and member of the House Freedom Caucus, about the US response to the reported chlorine gas attack on civilians in Syria that killed more than 80 people, including children. Massie voted against an American intervention in Syria in 2014.

“You see the images coming out of Syria and you think the best policy for the United States right now is to do nothing?” Bolduan asks towards the end of the 7.5-minute interview.

Massie cautions that American intervention might make the situation on the ground worse, then notes that “the first casualty of war is the truth.”

“It’s hard to know exactly what’s happening in Syria right now,” he continued. “I’d like to know specifically how that release of chemical gas, if it did occur ‒ and it looks like it did ‒ how that occurred. Because frankly I don’t think Assad would have done that. It does not serve his interest, it would tend to draw us into that civil war even further.”

Bolduan can’t contain herself from interrupting, her expression shocked, to haltingly ask who Massie thinks is behind the attack.

“Supposedly the airstrike was on an ammo dump, and so I don’t know if it was released because there was gas stored in the ammo dump or not,” he replied. “That’s plausible; I’m not saying that’s what I think happened…”

Baffled, Bolduan interrupts again to tie Massie to Assad and the Syrian president’s Russian backers.

“You’re more inclined to believe the position of what Bashar Al-Assad is saying and what the Russians are saying right now than more inclined to agree with, believe what your even your colleagues here in the United States believe is true, that this is Assad and what human rights observers over there say is Assad?” she asks incredulously.

“I don’t think it would have served Assad’s purposes to do a chemical attack on his people. So, you know, it’s hard for me to understand why he would do that if he did,” Massie replied.

Still stunned, Bolduan ends the interview.

Massie is most known for his repeated attempts to abolish the US Department of Education, as well as his pronouncement in mid-March that he would change his vote on the much-maligned American Health Care Act from “no” to “hell no.”

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Why the Syrian Gas Attack Is Probably Fake

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By Colin Liddell | Occidental Observer 

Dirty tricks are like favourite records: play them too much and they get jaded. We haven’t heard about gas attacks in Syria for some time, but now, once again, the media — and, sadly, the Trump administration — is in overdrive about what is claimed to be a gas attack on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikoun by the Assad government.

First of all, the use of gas should not be regarded as particularly “evil” in a war that has also seen bombing and shelling of civilian areas as a matter of course, not to mention all the refinements to cruelty that ISIS and their like have introduced. But it is. We get it. Gas is “evil,” and you’re very, very bad if you use it. OK? So, stop!

But this means that gas attacks are also an extremely useful means of propaganda — but only if your opponents are seen to do them. In fact, this negative propaganda effect totally outweighs gas’s military benefits. And, yes, using gas may have military benefits, although in this case it’s hard to see how any possible benefits could outweigh the costs in terms of increasing the level of Western hostility.

An important precedent is the major gas attack, apparently by sarin rockets, that took place in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in 2013 in which from between 350 and 1,400 people died.

Now, horrific as the attack was, there was a certain logic in it that made blaming the Syrian government plausible. The Syrian army was fighting street-to-street, house-to-house, trying to recapture urban territory, which any professional soldier can tell you is a nightmare for soldiers and civilian population alike. A way round this would be to use gas to clear out nests of entrenched opposition to make advances and pacification possible. Not ideal, obviously, but a way to break the deadlock and get a result. So, when the Ghouta attacks happened they at least made sense in a basic military tactical sense.

But any gains in this respect — and there weren’t many, as four years later Ghouta is still held by anti-Assad rebels — were soon outweighed by the negative international and diplomatic backlash, with the Obama and Cameron governments using the “propaganda” value of the attacks to push for military intervention.

Only strong countermeasures by the Russians, who claimed the attacks were false flag attacks designed to prepare the way for Western intervention, and a strong Russian commitment to support Assad, prevented this gas attack — false flag or not — becoming the death knell of the Assad government. Indeed, it is at least highly doubtful (see also here) that the attack was carried out by the Assad government.

Obviously gas attacks are an extremely risky and inefficient option for anyone, but especially the Assad government, so it simply doesn’t make sense that they would do this on purpose now. In fact there are a whole list of reasons why this couldn’t be a willful use of poison gas by the Assad government.

First, there’s the fact that Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters on March 30 that removing Assad was no longer a priority for the US:

You pick and choose your battles and when we’re looking at this, it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out…

Do we think he’s a hindrance? Yes. Are we going to sit there and focus on getting him out? No. What we are going to focus on is putting the pressure in there so that we can start to make a change in Syria…

We can’t necessarily focus on Assad the way that the previous administration did…Our priority is to really look at how do we get things done, who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria.

Given this, why would Assad risk the displeasure of the United States by doing something that reinforces the image presented by much of the media that he is a prime candidate for regime change? Why give fuel to Trump’s many critics by putting him in a difficult situation when he has just given you a free pass? On the other hand, if you really want renewed US effort to topple Assad, a false flag gas attack is just the ticket. Trump, under pressure from the media and many Republicans, may decide to change his mind and opt for a military confrontation.

So it’s no surprise that the neocon media immediately concluded that Assad was responsible. Michael Warren, writing in The Weekly Standardhopes that the attack will change Trump’s policy toward Syria. For Neocon Jonathan Tobin, writing in National Review, it’s certain that Assad did it, and he wants to use this event to go after the neocons’ bête noire, Russia:

The Syrian government dropped a poison-gas bomb on a hospital, taking the lives of dozens, including eleven children. … This is a moment for the president, who is not generally shy about sounding off on his views of the world, to say something that puts the onus on Putin for Assad’s atrocities and makes clear that the U.S. won’t continue to turn a blind eye to the horror there.

Like 9-11, the gas attack is exactly the sort of thing the neocons want in order to panic the US into military intervention by providing a powerful moral rationale. Remember the moral opprobrium attached to Saddam Hussein that was so important in selling the disastrous Iraq war to the American people? Assad’s supposed gas attack on children in a hospital paints him as the epitome of evil.

And of course neocon favorites Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham condemned the move. McCain‘s reasoning was that Trump, by de-prioritizing toppling the Assad regime, had encouraged Assad.

I’m sure they are encouraged to know the United States is withdrawing and seeking a new arrangement with the Russians. It is another disgraceful chapter in American history and it was predictable.

Sorry, but it seems ridiculous to try to launch a gas attack that kills a few dozen people in a civil war that has already killed between 321,000-400,000 people  when it will be condemned by virtually everyone and has been used in the past as a pretext for US involvement. How could such a small-scale attack yield a strategic advantage? How can attacking a hospital and killing children have any military benefit at all?

There’s also the location. Khan Sheikoun is not on the front line. It is well in the rear, at least 10 miles from where the fighting is taking place, and ten miles is an enormous distance in this war where front lines have been moving slowly for years. This is clearly not Assad’s army clearing out an area of entrenched opposition so that they can advance.

So, there is absolutely no clear military rationale behind such an attack. In fact quite the reverse. In terms of negative propaganda for the Syrian government, the location is ideal: an isolated gas attack that harms civilians, but does not significantly endanger or inhibit journalists, allowing the latter to film and highlight the suffering of the former. We are now being inundated with images of dead babies and children writhing in pain—the emotional currency of Fourth Generation Warfare.

So, absolutely zero military benefit and a massive negative propaganda effect for the Syrian government. They would have to be insane to do it.

There are other possibilities. The worst one for the Syrian government would be an unwitting use of a bomb, shell, or rocket containing gas. This is not impossible, as there is always a chance that some gas weapons slipped through the net when the Assad government agreed to clear out its stockpiles of chemical weapons.

Another possibility is that a normal bomb, shell, rocket hit an opposition chemical weapons depot. Again there is no reason why this is impossible. Chemical weapons have been in the hands of various sides in this chaotic war.

Then there is the possibility of a false flag. In its favour is the fact that Syria and gas attacks haven’t been at the top of the news agenda for some time, so the shock effect on the uninformed public will be fresh and strong. If it worked in the 2013 attack in getting the US involved, maybe it will work again. Also arguing in favour of a false flag is the fact that the Assad government has been making gains and has been growing stronger for months. In short, they have been on a roll. The last thing they need is to be blamed for gassing civilians, while this clearly favors their opponents who need all the help from the West that they can get. Indeed, Zerohedge notes:

What was lost in all of today’s conflicting narratives is that it was an almost identical alleged chemical attack by Assad in 2013 that got the Obama administration involved in the Syria proxy war in the first place; the motive behind today’s attack is hardly any different.

It is clear then that the most likely explanation for this tragic event is either an accident or a false flag, and certainly not an intentional action by the Assad government.

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Chemical attack blame game ‘failed’ at Syria conference in Brussels

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Attempts by some members of the Brussels conference on Syria to redraw the agenda and focus on allegations of the Syrian government’s complicity in the suspected chemical attack in Idlib have failed, Russia’s deputy foreign minister has said.

“In what concerns this conference, of course, some tried to redirect it in order to focus attention on the incident that has occurred [in Idlib]. I must say that they failed to achieve that,” said Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s representative at the UN-sponsored international donor conference that was held on April 4-5 in Brussels.

Moscow hopes that the incident will not lead to the derailment of intra-Syrian talks as that would play into hands of those who strive to obstruct the peace process.

“Anything can affect the talks. But we would not like for such incidents to be used by opponents of the negotiation process to disrupt it,” the Russian diplomat said, stressing that it is necessary for the negotiations to be inclusive.

Despite the apparent discord at the conference, its participants were largely united in that there is no alternative to political settlement to the protracted military conflict.

“I would like to note that all spoke in favor of political solution, the majority agreed that there is no military solution,” Gatilov said, as cited by TASS. He added that “practically all hailed” the negotiations in Astana made possible by the mediation of Russia, Turkey and Iran and commended them as “great help” for the Geneva process.

No breakthrough has yet been achieved in the talks, Gatilov said, referring to the latest round of intra-Syrian negotiations that took place in Geneva last week.

“Regrettably, so far it has yielded no practical results but it is not the reason to say that the round failed. Obviously, it is going to be a long process and we had been saying this all the time,” Gatilov said.

The slow progress is due to major differences between the take of the Syrian government and rebels on an array of key issues, he said. The major point of disagreement between the sides is what topic should be given a priority in the talks. While opposition argues that the talks should pave way for a transitional government, the Syrian authorities insist on the preeminence of the fight against terrorism.

On Tuesday, a suspected chemical attack on the hospital in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib province claimed the lives of dozens of people, including children. Rebel groups accused the Syrian government of mounting the attack, the claims which the Syrian authorities flatly denied.

Russia has demanded a thorough investigation into the incident, saying it should be led by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. The OPCW will be entrusted with collecting evidence of the attack within the fact-finding mission. The composition of the mission should be subject to approval by the UN Security Council.

In the aftermath of the attack, Russia’s Defense Ministry issued a statement, saying that the Syrian Air Force on Tuesday bombed a warehouse housing chemical weapons bound for Iraq. The storage facility, which was used to produce and store munitions containing toxic gas, was managed by the rebels. Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov noted that the symptoms displayed by the victims of the attack in Khan Sheikhoun are similar to those shown by civilians who suffered in the Aleppo chemical attack, perpetrated by the militants.

The death of civilians has sparked an international outcry, with some of the Western governments, including the US, backing the allegations put forward by the rebels.

Commenting on the attack, US President Donald Trump said that it was “unacceptable” went “beyond the red line” and made him to rethink his stance on the Syrian government and President Bashar Assad.

In his turn, Vice President Mike Pence blamed the attack on a “failure of the past administration to both confront the mindless violence of the Assad regime and also hold Russia and Syria to account for the promises to destroy chemical weapons,” in an interview to Fox News on Wednesday.

Responding to a question, if Washington sees Moscow also responsible for the attack, Pence stated that Russian must ensure the implementation of the pledge by the Syrian government to destroy all chemical stockpiles, saying that “the time come has come for them [Russia] to keep the word that they made, to see the elimination of the chemical weapons so that they no longer threaten the people in that country.”

“We were told that there were an agreement between Russians and Assad to destroy chemical weapons and that the threat to civilians from a chemical attack had been eliminated, it was not,” Pence claimed.

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Russia submits resolution to UN on chemical weapons attack in Syria

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By Adam Garrie | The Duran 

Russia has tabled a UN Security Council resolution calling for a through investigation of the chemical weapons incident in Idlib Governorate.

Vladimir Safronkov, Russia’s acting Ambassador to the UN who has stepped in to fill the position of the late Vitaly Churkin has said,

“… we submitted our short draft resolution, drawn up in a business manner and aimed at conducting a true investigation rather than to appoint the guilty ones until the facts are established”.

The Russian draft resolution proposes to,

“… fully investigate the reports about the incident on the ground under the mandatory condition that the list of investigators will be submitted to the UN for approval and will be geographically balanced as well”

This is in sharp contrast to the US-UK-France co-sponsored resolution which automatically assigned blame to the Syrian government in spite of clear evidence to the contrary. That resolution was vetoed by Russia.

The Russian resolution calls for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the group which helped the Syrian government to remove the remains of its chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013, to explore this incident.

It also demands that illegal terrorist groups cooperate with investigations, something which may not be possible.

This response is similar to Russia’s reaction to the use of chemical weapons in Donbass by forces loyal to the Kiev regime. At that time Russia called for an investigation rather than a war.

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Syria denies & condemns use of chemical weapons – foreign minister

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Syria’s foreign minister has dismissed allegations that the Syrian Army had deployed chemical weapons in the city of Idlib, saying the military will never use such weapons against its own people or even terrorists.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem denied claims that the military used chemical weapons in the western city of Idlib. Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Muallem said an airstrike by Syrian military had targeted an arms depot where chemical weapons stockpiles were stored by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front militants.

He said it’s impossible that the army – which has been making significant gains in almost all theaters of the Syrian war – would use banned chemical weapons against its “own people” and even terrorists.

Asked if Damascus would allow a fact-finding mission into the Idlib incident, Muallem said past experience of similar investigations was “not encouraging.” He also said that he could not predict “the reality of US intentions” in Syria.

Muallem added that such a mission must not be politicized and must start its operations “from Damascus, not Turkey,” apparently referring to the latest statements by Ankara condemning the incident, as well as the fact that some victims were taken to Turkey for autopsy.

‘Monstrous crime’

Meanwhile, Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Russian president, said the Kremlin believes the Syrian military will do its utmost to prevent chemical agents from falling into the hands of terrorists.

“This was indeed a dangerous and monstrous crime, but in our opinion, it would be wrong to point fingers,” Peskov told reporters on Thursday. The Kremlin spokesman said Moscow does not agree with assessments provided by certain Western countries.

“Immediately after the tragedy no one had access to this area, so no one could have hard verifiable data. Consequently, any information which the US side or our colleagues from other countries might have had access to, could not be based on objective facts,” Peskov told reporters.

Though Peskov rejected “hasty assessments” of the alleged use of chemical weapons, he emphasized that there are always disagreements between Moscow and Washington, but mutual discords over the Idlib incident are unlikely to affect “the spirit of our cooperation.”

Earlier in the day, the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed as “unsubstantiated” statements by US Vice-President Mike Pence that Moscow and Damascus had failed to fulfill their obligations under a landmark 2013 deal to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenals.

“I wouldn’t use profane language, especially when it comes to the second-most powerful man in the US administration, but I do believe that this is ignorance rather than irresponsibility,” Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the ministry’s Arms Control Department, said.

“The new administration has only recently begun reviewing its policy. Once that’s done, American officials’ statements, I hope, will become more accurate. There is no reason to say the US-Russia agreements [on eliminations Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles] did not work,” Ulyanov stated.

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UN experts warn Saudi Zio-Wahhabi family against demolition of Shia neighborhood


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UN rapporteurs have urged Saudi Zio-Wahhabi family to immediately halt a planned demolition of an entire 400-year-old neighborhood inhabited by the kingdom’s Shia Muslim minority.

The UN experts warned that the so-called development plan for the historic neighborhood of al-Masora in the village of Awamia in the eastern province of Qatif threatens the historical and cultural heritage of the area with irreparable harm.

They said such a move would lead to forced eviction of 2,000 to 3,000 people from their businesses and residences.

“The area is of importance not only to local people and the entire cultural landscape of Awamia, but also has national significance for the history and cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia,”  said the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune.

“The planned demolition would erase this unique regional heritage in an irreversible manner,”  she pointed out.

Masora is considered a historical model of a walled village, including mosques, farms and farmers markets, places of worship for Shia Muslims, ‘Hussainiyats’, and businesses. It has been of great interest for researchers and experts in the fields of heritage and archaeology.

The imminent demolition of the entire neighborhood is part of a so-called development plan aimed at transforming Masora from a mainly residential neighborhood to a commercial and service zone.

Local residents are concerned that the plan will exacerbate the existing housing crisis and lead to a rise in real estate prices, as the plan does not include the construction of residential buildings.

“Residents have been pressured in many ways, including through power cuts, to vacate their homes and businesses without adequate alternative resettlement options, leaving them at best with insufficient compensation and at worst, with nowhere to go,”  said the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha.

“Demolitions must never lead to homelessness of the evicted persons, so the authorities have to ensure the provision of adequate alternative housing facilities, resettlement and compensation for lost property,” she added.

The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, warned about the ramifications of the demolition on the standard of living of Masora residents.

“If implemented, the plan will remove people from the areas where they live and work, resulting in loss of livelihood and difficulty in securing housing,” he said.

The experts also raised concerns over the lack of “any meaningful consultation” with the residents, and the absence of less damaging alternatives, like restoration.

“The Saudi authorities must take all necessary steps to guarantee cultural rights, including the right to the enjoyment of and access to cultural heritage, and the right to an adequate standard of living, including housing, in accordance with international human rights laws and standards,” the UN experts said in a statement.

“They must halt all ongoing demolition works that do not meet these standards and cancel any planned in the future,” the statement said.

Citizens of Qatif and other oil-rich regions of eastern Saudi Arabia have for long lamented about discrimination against them. International rights campaigners have also called on Riyadh to stop the persecution of members of the Shia community, saying they should enjoy more freedom in expressing their religious beliefs.

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US Missile Strikes on Syrian Airbase Killed Four Children Living Nearby


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HOMS – The US missile strike on Syria’s Sha’irat airbase killed four children, an informed source in Homs told Sputnik Friday.

On Thursday night, the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha’irat, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the city of Homs. US President Donald Trump said the attack was a response to the alleged chemical weapon use in Syria’s Idlib on Tuesday, which Washington blames on the Syrian government.

“According to our information, among the killed civilians there are four children. They are from ordinary families living near the airbase. There is nothing more to say,” the source said.

Earlier, conflicting reports on the number of casualties as a result of the attack emerged. The Homs governor said five were killed and seven injured.The Russian Defense Ministry said Syria is currently investigating the number of casualties.

The Russian Foreign Minister said no Russian servicemen died as a result of the attack.

Russia described the attack as an aggression against a sovereign state.

Following the US military action, Russia decided to suspend its memorandum of understanding on air safety over Syria with the United States, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

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US Missile Attack on Syria Base Condemned, Welcomed

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Syria strongly condemned a US missile attack targeting an army airbase near Homs as an “act of aggression,” while the Zionist entity and Syrian armed opposition groups calling for further attacks.

The US military launched about 60 Tomahawk missiles against several targets on al-Shayrat air base 38 kilometers southeast of the city of Homs.

Homs Governor Talal Barazi said the US missile strikes serve the goals of armed terrorist groups and ISIL, adding that the aggression will not prevent the Syrian government from “fighting terrorism.”

Iran strongly condemned the US attack. In a Friday statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tehran “roundly condemns any unilateral military action and the missile attacks against al-Shayrat Airbase in Syria by American warships.”

“Iran strongly condemns any such unilateral strikes… Such measures will strengthen terrorists in Syria … and will complicate the situation in Syria and the region,” ISNA quoted Bahram Qasemi as saying.

Bolivia requested a closed-door UN Security Council to be held on Friday. Russia also said it will call the 15-nation body into session.

A source in the Greek Ministry of National Defence said that Greece is strongly against any military intervention in Syria as it could hamper peace efforts. “Greece is strongly against any military intervention in Syria,” a National Defense Ministry source told Sputnik, adding that such action will hamper dialogue and peace in Syria.

Indonesia said it was concerned with unilateral actions “by any parties, including the use of Tomahawk missiles,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir said in a text message. “Military actions, undertaken without prior authorization of the UN Security Council, are not in line with international legal principles in the peaceful settlement of disputes, as stipulated in the UN Charter.”

The government of Japan is calling a UN Security Council emergency meeting in the wake of the US missile strike, media reported citing a government source. According to the Kyodo news agency, earlier in the day, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said that Tokyo was checking the information about the US strike, and that Japan would express its position after it obtained all the information.

Armed Opposition’s Position Intersects with the Zionist One Again

The foreign-backed National Coalition armed opposition group welcomed the US missile strikes and hoped they will continue in order to ‘stop Syrian government bombardment’, an SNC media official said Friday.

“We hope for the continuation of the strikes in order to prevent the regime from using its planes to launch any new air raids or going back to using internationally banned weapons,” said Ahmad Ramadan, head of the SNC’s media office.

Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office also celebrated the attack with an early morning statement, saying he supported “strong message” sent by US strikes.

Britain gave its backing, too. “The U.K. government fully supports the U.S. action which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime and is intended to deter further attacks,” a government spokesman said.

Australia’s Turnbull, in turn, said the strikes sent “a vitally important message” that the world will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons. “The retribution has been proportionate and it has been swift,” he told reporters in Sydney. “We support the United States in that swift action.”

A few hours before the attack, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said on Thursday Turkey would welcome a US military attack on Syria. Speaking live on nationwide Kanal 7 TV, he said Turkey was ready to do its part if such an onslaught took place.

The Pentagon said the Russians deployed to the targeted military facility were given prior notice, and that the missiles did not hit sections of the airbase where Moscow’s forces were reportedly present.

There has been no immediate reaction from Moscow, but Russia had warned on Thursday that there could be “negative consequences” if Washington takes military action against Syria.

“All responsibility if military action occurs will be on the shoulders of those who initiated such a doubtful tragic enterprise,” Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov said.

“Look at Iraq, look at Libya,” he said, referring to the countries which have been rocked by violence, terrorism and chaos since the West launched a military intervention.

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Daesh attacks ancient Syrian city after US strike on nearby airbase


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Takfiri Daesh terrorists have launched a fresh push to retake Palmyra in Syria’s Homs Province shortly after the US launched a missile strike on an airfield used by the Syrian army to protect the ancient city.

According to the Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV channel, Daesh terrorists took advantage of the US attack on Shayrat Airfield, located southeast of Homs city, on Friday and attacked Palmyra, killing four people.

Sources on the ground said the offensive was successfully repelled by the Syrian army.

Since 2014, when Daesh unleashed its campaign of terror in Syria, the group has seized Palmyra twice but the army liberated it once last year and the second time in March.

The US military fired some 60 cruise missiles at the army airbase, inflicting “big material damage” on the facility, which was used by the Syrian army to defend southern regions, including the cities of Palmyra, al-Qaryatayn and Mahin in Homs Province.

Foreign-backed terrorist groups welcomed the strike, but urged additional action, with one major faction saying a single strike was “not enough.”

“Hitting one airbase is not enough, there are 26 airbases that target civilians,” a key figure in the Jaysh al-Islam faction, Mohamed Alloush, said on his Twitter account.

Mohamed Bayrakdar, another leader of the terrorist group which operates mainly around the capital Damascus, described the strike as “a bold and correct step.”

Other Takfiri groups also called for continued military action against the Syrian government.

“In my opinion, the message is political, and the message has arrived to Russia and been understood,” Issam Raes, spokesman for the Southern Front terrorist faction, told AFP.

Colonel Ahmed Osman, of the Turkey-backed Sultan Murad militant group, said: “We welcome any action that will put an end to the regime that is committing the worst crimes in history.”

Reports say there were 40 hangers for Sukhoi and Mikoyan warplanes in the airfield, which Syria had recently received from Russia.

Given the strategic location of the airfield, Syria and Russia were recently considering plans to upgrade the airbase to deploy advanced aircraft and Russia’s S-400 air defense systems at Shayrat.

Later on Friday, the Kremlin cited Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying that the US missile attack on the Syrian airbase has violated international law and significantly harmed Russia-US relations.

The US launched the military strike on Shayrat airfield in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib Province earlier this week.

Syria has categorically denied carrying out a chemical attack. Russia has also said the deaths in Idlib were caused when a Syrian airstrike struck a terrorist warehouse used for making bombs with toxic substances.

The Pentagon said the Russians deployed to the targeted military facility were given prior notice, and that attack did not hit sections of the airbase where Moscow’s forces were reportedly present.

According to al-Mayadeen, the Syrian army had evacuated most of its warplanes from Shayrat airfield before the US attack.

Washington’s assault was met with strong condemnations from Russia, Syria and Iran.

The foreign-backed National Coalition, an alliance of terrorist groups, however said it “welcomes the strike” and urged Washington to neutralize Syria’s ability to carry out air raids.

Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, along with their Western allies, joined the militants and voiced support for the militants.

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US Launches Tomahawk Missiles on a Syrian Airbase Used in Fight against ISIL

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The United States has launched on Friday morning dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles at an airbase in Syria in response to this week’s alleged chemical attack that it has blamed on the Syrian government, the pentagon announced.

The US military launched about 60 Tomahawk missiles against several targets on al-Shayrat air base 38 kilometers southeast of the city of Homs. They were reportedly fired from the USS Ross and USS Porter, Navy destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The strikes targeted aircraft and infrastructure, including the runway, but not people, US officials told NBC. But a Syrian military source was quoted by state TV as saying that the US missile strike has “led to losses.”

Syrian military personnel, as well as equipment, were evacuated from the airfield in prior to the late Thursday US missile attack, media report. The missile strike damaged runways, towers and traffic control buildings at the airbase, but personnel had been evacuated and equipment was moved ahead of the strike, ABC said on Friday citing eyewitness reports.

Governor of Homs Province Talal al-Barazi said that the Shayrat Airfield plays a key role in supporting Syrian government forces in their fight against ISIL terrorists.

“The Syrian army and armed forces are fighting terrorism, especially in the east of Homs. And recently significant progress has been reached, gas fields have been liberated as well as the city of Palmyra and its surroundings. This base to the east of Homs plays a key role in supporting military operations against ISIL, particularly in the eastern part of Homs,” al-Barazi said in a phone interview.

“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” US President Donald Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” Trump said.

“There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons,” he stated without providing a shred of evidence to back his claim.

The allegations of chemical arms use are still made against Syria even as the dismantling of the country’s entire stockpile of chemical weapons as well as relevant production facilities was supervised by the UN.

Foreign-backed militants have repeatedly used chemical weapons against Syrian troops, some of which have been verified by UN officials, but the attacks have often been ignored by Western governments.

US Congressman Tulsi Gabbard said that Trump’s decision to conduct the missile strike against a Syrian airfield was a mistake that will escalate tensions with Russia and lead to more civilian casualties. “This escalation is short-sighted and will lead to more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of al-Qaeda and other terrorists, and a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia — which could lead to nuclear war,” Gabbard stressed.

Russia will demand urgent UN Security Council meeting after US missile strike at an airbase in Syria, Victor Ozerov, the chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on Defense and Security, told Sputnik.

“Russia will first of all demand an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council. This can be regarded as an act of aggression on the part of the US against a UN state,” Ozerov said.

“After this incident the already clouded relations with the US will somewhat worsen,” Ozerov told Sputnik, adding that the missile attack will likely be “a very bad example for the armed opposition in Syria, which could put under question the agreements reached with the opposition, including in Geneva.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement after the US attack that there were no discussions or prior contacts between the United States and Moscow ahead of the missile strike on the Syrian base.

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on US Launches Tomahawk Missiles on a Syrian Airbase Used in Fight against ISIL

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