US, France, UK launch strikes on Syria; Damascus terms it ‘barbaric’

RSTV Bureau
File photo of Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad. AP/PTI

File photo of Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad.
AP/PTI

US, France and UK launched strikes on Syria this morning in a claimant response to an alleged chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma last week. Explosions have been reported in the Syrian capital Damascus. Reacting strongly to the developments, Syria denounced it as “barbaric”.

The strikes come after US President Donald Trump announced that he had ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, Syria denounced the strikes on its military installations as a “brutal, barbaric aggression” that violated international law.

“The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the strongest terms the brutal American-British-French aggression against Syria, which constitutes a flagrant violation of international law,” the foreign ministry said.

The joint operation came one week after a suspected chemical attack on an opposition-controlled town outside Damascus left more than 40 people dead. While the West blamed President Bashar al-Assad, but Syria and its ally Russia categorically denied the claims.

“The timing of the aggression coincides with the arrival of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) mission to Syria to investigate the alleged chemical attack in Douma, and mainly aims at hindering the mission’s work and pre-empting its results,” Syrian foreign ministry said.

Several missiles hit a research centre in Barzeh, north of Damascus, “destroying a building that included scientific labs and a training centre,” SANA reported.

The Syrian state media published images of a cloud of reddish smoke hanging over the capital and said that air defences were activated to block the attack. It, however, claimed that skies were clear over Aleppo in the north, Hasakeh in the northeast, and Latakia and Tartus along the western coast, where key Syrian and Russian military installations are located.

Reports say US aircrafts and ships have been used in the attack. Trump said the strikes were in coordination with France and the United Kingdom, adding that the purpose of the campaign is to “establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons.”

UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed British involvement, saying there was “no practicable alternative to the use of force”. But she also said the strikes were not about “regime change”.

(With inputs from Agencies)