The morning after Syria’s latest chemical attack against its own people, the president took to Twitter and said that “Animal Assad” would pay a “big price” for the attack.
Early Saturday morning, the Syrian government found out just how big of a price that would be — and it’s one that could have repercussions for years to come.
According to the Washington Examiner, three targets were struck by allied U.S., British and French forces. One was a research facility doing R&D on chemical weapons, another a storage facility for the weapons, and finally a command post which housed the weapons.
“They will lose years of research and development data,” said Gen. Joseph Dunford, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The strike used double the number of weapons and triple the number of targets compared to last year’s strike — and, as the sun rose over Damascus later Saturday morning, the extent of the attack became clear in a haunting photo:
Smoke blankets the sky during sunrise over the Syrian capital of Damascus after the U.S. launched military strikes. pic.twitter.com/ElcxjmnNyn
— Fox News (@FoxNews) April 14, 2018
“We used a little over double the number of weapons this year than we used last year,” Mattis told reporters Friday night Washington time. “Right now this is a one-time shot.”
The attack included Tomahawk missiles “fired from at least three American warships,” The New York Times reported, along with missile strikes from B-1 bombers. French and British planes also fired missiles at Syrian targets and a British submarine launched missiles, as well.
“We confined it to the chemical weapons-type targets,” he added. “We were not out to expand this; we were very precise and proportionate. But at the same time, it was a heavy strike.”
However, the president made it clear that if the attacks didn’t stop, he wouldn’t hesitate to use force against Syria again.
“We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” the president said during a Friday night press conference.
The president also warned Russia against throwing in its lot with the Syrian regime.
“To Iran and to Russia I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?” the president said.
“The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants and murderous dictators.”
The Russians were quick to strike back, at least with words.
“We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences,” Russian ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said in a statement. “All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.”
Antonov also said that accusing Vladimir Putin of not doing his job and disarming Syria of chemical weapons was “unacceptable and inadmissible” and “(i)nsulting the president of Russia.” Which doesn’t say anything about whether or not he disarmed them, mind you (he clearly didn’t, judging by the fact that at least 40 people are dead in Douma after an obvious chemical weapons strike), just that it’s “insulting” to Vladimir Putin and “unacceptable.”
If Antonov thinks that’s unacceptable, perhaps he should consider using the same language to condemn a chemical attack. Aside from support from Syria and Iran, Russia found itself mostly alone — especially since both France and the United Kingdom offered their backing for the action.
“This persistent pattern of behavior must be stopped — not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and casualties caused by chemical weapons, but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of these weapons,” Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain said.
“This is not about intervening in a civil war,” she added. “It is not about regime change. It is about a limited and targeted strike that does not further escalate tensions in the region and that does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.”
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