After having debated the idea over the last week, and consulting with NATO allies abroad, the Trump administration announced Friday night that the United States had begun a series of precision missile strikes on Syria, aimed at sending a message to dictator Bashar al-Assad after he again launched chemical weapons attacks against his own people. The military action was taken in cooperation with Great Britain and France, after all three NATO allies deemed that the ongoing usage of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime would not come to a halt.
The possibility of a US military strike in Syria arose less than a week ago, after reports emerged of Assad launching a chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma. As the idea of a missile attack in retaliation grew imminent, Vladimir Putin vowed that any incoming missiles would be shot down by the Russian military. The escalating conflict between the US and Russia in Syria had initially raised concerns about a potential standoff between the two countries, which fortunately seems to have dwindled as the Russian military made no attempt to shoot down the missile strike.
Another point of concern arose regarding the possibility of civilian casualties that would result from the attack, given that striking the chemical weapons facilities may have led to the unintended deaths of nearby Syrian citizens. However, these concerns have also been fortunately debunked for the time being, as the Pentagon announced Saturday morning that they have had no record of civilian casualties.
Pentagon officials said that 105 missiles had been fired in the strike at the three targets. They said that Syria shot 40 missiles into the air in response but mostly after the strike was completehttps://t.co/CUCjD12ak5 pic.twitter.com/fxtqzZ2YYC
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) April 14, 2018
According to an Axios report:
‘Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, Director of the Joint Staff in a press briefing Saturday morning said the Pentagon is not aware of any civilian casualties at this time, and announced that since the strike the US has “not seen any military response from actors within Syria.”‘
Although it may be too early to definitively rule out any unintended casualties as a result of the strike, the Pentagon’s announcement comes as a temporary relief. Dana White, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon, added in the press conference that despite the military action taken in Syria, that it does not represent any change in policy towards the embattled country.
Pentagon gives briefing on the Syria strike: "The use of chemical weapons, anywhere in the world, is an inexcusable violation of international law, and the United Stands will not tolerate it." https://t.co/iOaONV0wMf pic.twitter.com/MC8ilsuz5z
— CNN (@CNN) April 14, 2018
Pentagon briefing summary
– 105 missiles launched
– Syria fired 40 back but after strike
– Russia didn’t fire
– No known casualties
– 2000% increase in Russian troll activity in last 24 hours
– Strikes “precise, overwhelming and effective"
— Ben Riley-Smith (@benrileysmith) April 14, 2018
McKenzie further outlined details that a total of 105 missiles had been launched at three separate targets, all of which having been successfully destroyed as a result, and all without any retaliation from Russia.
PHOTOS: Pentagon releases first images of April 13 Syria strike pic.twitter.com/Y1Ivp7xov6
— Lara Seligman (@laraseligman) April 14, 2018
The attack on Syria is among the first actions taken by world powers to send a clear message to Assad that his consistent usage of chemical weapons will no longer be tolerated.
The international community, in recent years, had publicly claimed that a ‘red line’ would be drawn at the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, but failed to enforce the threshold, despite the numerous times the Syrian military used the weapons The result was an emboldened Assad that not only tested the boundaries of the global community, but was able to effectively get away with these crimes against humanity without retaliation from world powers.
Although it cannot be known for certain whether the missile strike will deter the Assad regime from again conducting these heinous attacks, it nevertheless serves as a clear sign that the international community will no longer stand idly by as innocent children and civilians are subject to such torturous war crimes.
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