Tehran denounces US-led attack on Syria, warns of regional repercussions

Tehran denounces US-led attack on Syria, warns of regional repercussions

France's foreign minister said the "chemical escalation" in Syria is not acceptable because it's violating the rules of war and of humanity. "We are ready to start working right now with all countries who want to participate", Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a press conference.

A senior official in a regional alliance that backs Damascus told Reuters that said the Syrian government and its allies had "absorbed" the attack, and that targeted sites were evacuated days ago thanks to a warning from Russian Federation. "Syria continues to engage in and provide a base for murderous actions, including those of Iran, that put its territory, its forces and its leadership at risk", the official said.

Loud explosions rocked Syria's capital and filled the sky with heavy smoke early Saturday after U.S. president Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country's alleged use of chemical weapons. Photos showed missiles streaking over the night sky in Syria, and witnesses told CNN they heard explosions in the capital Damascus as Trump was making his address. France, the United Kingdom and the United States will brief allies on actions taken in Syria, the official said. A US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes in Syria since September 2014 as part of a largely successful effort to break the IS grip on both Syria and Iraq.

"The evil and the despicable attack left mother and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air". "These are not the actions of a man".

Mr Trump's language was more brutal: "They are crimes of a monster".

General Joseph Dunford, Washington's top general, said the precision strikes hit three targets - a scientific research centre near Damascus, a storage facility and command post also near the capital and a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs. Trump had reportedly talked to UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron this week, both of whom believed that the Syrian regime should be held accountable. It was a marked escalation in force compared to a United States strike launched a year ago, when only cruise missiles were used against a single airfield.

With more than 100 missiles fired from ships and manned aircraft, the allies struck three of Syria's main chemical weapons facilities, United States defnse secretary Jim Mattis and joint chiefs of staff chairman general Joseph Dunford said.

The decision to strike, after days of deliberations, marked Trump's second order to attack Syria; he authorized a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles to hit a single Syrian airfield in April 2017 in retaliation for Assad's use of sarin gas against civilians.

"The strike was calibrated, proportionate and targeted", she said.

Trump also accused Russian Federation and Iran of being "responsible for supporting, equipping, and financing" Assad's regime: "What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children", Trump asked.

The strikes had been expected since harrowing footage surfaced of the aftermath of the alleged toxic gas attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma, which took place a week ago, and Mr Trump reacted in an emotional tweet. "It sends a clear and strong message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated by the global community".

"This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very awful regime", Trump said on Friday.

In the days between the attack in Douma and the US-led response, Washington and Moscow clashed repeatedly in duelling press statements and USA debates.

Their real impact will be on the plummeting relationship between Moscow and the West.

Macron said: "We can not tolerate the employment of chemical weapons".

Trump said Washington is prepared to "sustain" pressure on Assad until he ends what the president called a criminal pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons.

The western leaders apparently found this convincing enough reason to launch a punitive strike, but other observers are concerned that the crisis could escalate.

The US military said the allied strikes destroyed three main chemical weapons facilities.

But Mr Trump has long criticised his predecessor Barack Obama for failing to enforce a previous United States "red line" in 2013 after earlier chemical attacks blamed on Mr Assad's forces.

The airstrikes were "not about intervening in a civil war (or) regime change", May said.

Trump, however, has been leery of USA military involvement in the Middle East, and is eager to withdraw roughly 2,000 troops who are in Syria as part of the battle against Islamic State militants.

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