US launches Missile strikes in Syria

US launches Missile strikes in Syria

On 7 April 2017, the US carried out a missile attack against an air base in Syria in response to a suspected...

On 7 April 2017, the US carried out a missile attack against an air base in Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town. The Pentagon said 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at 04:40 from destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean.

In a televised address, President Donald Trump said the base was the launch point for the chemical attack. He called on "all civilised nations" to help end the conflict in Syria. Dozens of civilians, including many children, died in the suspected nerve gas attack on Tuesday in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.

The Statement

Trump branded Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a "dictator" who had "launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians". Trump said he had acted in America's "vital national security interest" to prevent the use of chemical weapons.

He said, “I call on all civilised nations to join us in seeking to end this slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”

The Pentagon said “the Russian military, which is supporting the Syrian government, had been informed ahead of the US attack. And the missiles fired from Navy destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross had targeted aircraft, aircraft shelters, storage areas, ammunition supply bunkers, air defence systems, and radars at the Shayrat airfield and the strike was intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again.”

Analysis

The chemical weapons attack completely damaged the relationship between the US and Syria. Within two days, the US has reversed its view on President Assad, identified targets and struck. Is this an act of retaliation, or the start of something more prolonged against the Assad government? Where it leaves relations with Syria's strong ally, Russia?

Is there a chance for more strikes or is it just a beginning?

Trump had earlier warned that "something should happen" against the Syrian leadership following the deaths in Khan Sheikhoun, but gave no details.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signalled a sudden shift in policy by the Trump administration, saying that Bashar al-Assad should have no role in a future Syria.

Assessment

With a high degree of confidence that the chemical weapons attack earlier this week was launched by air assets under the command of the Assad regime. Also with a similar degree of confidence, that the Assad regime used a chemical nerve agent consistent with Sarin in these attacks.

 

 

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