THIS ARTICLE WAS UPLOADED LATE LAST NIGHT.
SINCE THEN EVENTS HAVE ESCALATED AND TAKEN A DRAMATIC TURN FOR THE WORSE.
THE US HAS ATTACKED SYRIA WITH 59 TOMAHAWK CRUISE MISSILES, BRINGING TRUMP INTO DIRECT CONFRONTATION WITH PUTIN.
SEE IMPORTANT UPDATE AT END.
By Barney Henderson in New York
and Nick Allen in Washington.
The Daily Telegraph, 6 April 2017
Trump responds with military action
against Syria’s alleged chemical weapons attack on its own people.
IS TRUMP TRYING TO START WW3?
DONALD TRUMP last night raised the prospect of military action against the Syrian regime after he said that Bashar al-Assad has “crossed a lot of lines” and the US has a “responsibility” to act.
The US president said Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack, which intelligence officials say was undoubtedly launched by regime war planes, was an “affront to humanity”.
At least 86 people were killed, 30 of whom were children, in the sarin gas attack in the rebel-held Idlib province.
The US response to the attack is being viewed as Mr Trump’s first major foreign policy test.
Speaking at a White House press conference yesterday, the president suggested that the US would now respond to the Assad regime. When asked how he planned to respond, Mr Trump told reporters: “You’ll see.”
He also said yesterday: “I now have that responsibility and I will carry it very proudly.”
Mr Trump’s comments came after Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, condemned the UN Security Council’s failure to intervene in the Syrian civil war. She said: “When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action.”
Mr Trump said: “Yesterday’s chemical attack, a chemical attack so horrific in Syria against innocent people including women, small children, and even beautiful little babies, their deaths were an affront to humanity. These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated. The US stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this horrific attack.”
In his comments Mr Trump did not once mention Russia, the Assad regime’s key ally.
Mike Pence, the US vice president, last night said “all options are on the table” in how to respond to the attack.
The White House had said only last week that US policy on Syria was no longer focused on ousting Mr Assad. However, Tuesday’s attack has dramatically changed Mr Trump’s position.
“It had a big impact on me. It was a horrible, horrible thing. I’ve been watching it and it doesn’t get any worse than that,” he said. “My attitude to Syria and Assad has changed very much. You are now talking about a whole different level. What happened yesterday is unacceptable to me. You will see. They will have a message, you will see what the message will be.”
One option would be for Mr Trump to order surgical strikes on regime air bases using surface-to-air missiles, defence sources said.
Any direct US military intervention is unlikely to develop into a protracted conflict. Mr Trump has regularly condemned lengthy and costly US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I would love to have never been in the Middle East,” he said yesterday.
The US was close to launching air strikes against Syria in 2013 following a chemical attack on the Damascus suburbs that killed up to 1,300 people. However, President Barack Obama backed down from launching attacks.
Sourced from The Daily Telegraph
The atrocity in Syria will test President Trump’s mettle
(Op ed, The Daily Telegraph)
The appalling chemical attack on the northern Syrian city of Idlib, which has killed an estimated 70 people – including children – has resulted in the United Nations having once again to wrestle with the vexed issue of how to respond to Syria’s long-running civil war. All the early indicators point to the attack having been carried out by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad as part of its campaign to reconquer all the territory captured by rebel groups.
(((Western intelligence reports))) suggest that a Syrian aircraft was the only one operating in the area at the time the attack occurred, and that the chemical substance – in all likelihood a sarin-like nerve agent – was contained in a bomb dropped from the air.
As has so often been the case in this brutal conflict, acquiring incontrovertible proof that the regime has committed war crimes is rarely straightforward or easy.
Damascus has strongly denied involvement, claiming rebel groups carried out the attack, while the Russians, who control the air space in which it occurred, reacted angrily to accusations of their own culpability, saying it was “fake information” planted by the US, Britain and France designed to discredit Moscow.
Many will question why the Russians would allow the Assad regime to carry out another chemical weapons attack, thereby attracting further international opprobrium, when they have achieved most of their war aims in Syria. But Vladimir Putin does not play by the normal rules of conflict, and the Kremlin may well see the attack as an opportunity to test the mettle of the new Trump administration in Washington which, hitherto, has indicated it might want to do business with the Kremlin’s hard man.
It is certainly true that the Idlib atrocity has forced the Trump administration into a direct confrontation with the Russians at the UN Security Council, where Russian diplomats are likely to veto any resolution that blames the Assad regime. Indeed, the whole affair could come to define the future of the Trump administration’s engagement with the Russians, one where the White House finally comes to understand the reality of trying to do business with Mr Putin.
LD: Is Trump at last about the reveal himself as a Zionist puppet as he attacks Syria on behalf of Israel? This question is now being seriously asked as growing disillusionment among Trump’s baseline White nationalist supporters has begun to surface. One thing is certain: if Trump decides to attack Syria, he will come into direct conflict with Vladimir Putin. Those who are fanatical supporters of both Putin and Trump will then have to choose between their two heroes.
WHO ARE YOU GOING TO BACK
WHEN THESE TWO ARE AT EACH OTHER’S THROATS?
The US has carried out a missile strike against a Syrian air base in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town.
Fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from two US Navy ships in the Mediterranean. Six people were killed, the Syrian army said.
It is the first direct US military action against forces commanded by Syria’s president.
The Kremlin, which backs Bashar al-Assad, has condemned the strike.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, called it “an act of aggression against a sovereign nation”.
The attack, at 04:40 Syrian time (01:40 GMT), comes just days after dozens of civilians, including many children, died in the suspected nerve gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.
Speaking from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Mr Trump branded President Assad a “dictator” who had “launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians”.
Mr Trump said he had acted in America’s “vital national security interest” to prevent the use of chemical weapons.
“Tonight 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,” he said.
The UK government called the US strike “an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack”.
The Pentagon said the Russian military, which supports Syrian government forces, had been informed ahead of the US action. The Pentagon added that the strike was intended “to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again”.
Analysis: Jon Sopel, BBC North America editor
Rarely has a policy changed so far and so quickly — and rarely has it been acted upon so swiftly.
When President Trump came to office the Syrian leader was seen as a useful ally in the fight against so-called Islamic State. All talk of regime change stopped.
But the chemical weapons attack changed all that. Within two days, the US has reversed its view on President Assad, identified targets and struck.
What we don’t know is whether this is a one-off act of retaliation, or the start of something more prolonged against the Assad government. Nor do we know where it leaves relations with Syria’s strong ally, Russia.
A White House spokesman said it believed “with a high degree of confidence” that Tuesday’s chemical attack had been launched from the Shayrat airfield by warplanes under the command of President Assad.
(LD : “High degree of confidence” = NO SUBSTANTIAL PROOF)
He also said the White House believed the substance used was the nerve agent Sarin, which is highly toxic and considered 20 times as deadly as cyanide.
A statement on Syrian state TV said “American aggression” had targeted a Syrian military base with “a number of missiles”.
The Syrian army spokesman later said the attack had left six people dead, a number of others wounded, and caused significant damage. He did not say whether the people affected were civilian or military.
A BBC News producer has been sharing reports from people near to the base on social media, with one describing “total devastation”.
Trump justifying the US missile strike on Syria