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Trump unleashes military strikes against Assad airbase in Syria

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Trump unleashes military strikes against Assad airbase in Syria

By Steve Holland

REUTERS
 

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the gas attack in Syria during a joint news conference with Jordan's King Abdullah II in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

 

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - The U.S. military launched cruise missile strikes ordered by President Donald Trump against a Syrian airbase controlled by President Bashar al-Assad's forces in response to a deadly chemical attack in a rebel-held area, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

 

Facing his biggest foreign policy crisis since taking office in January, Trump took the toughest direct U.S. action yet in Syria's six-year-old civil war, raising the risk of confrontation with Russia and Iran, Assad's two main military backers.

 

Some 50 Tomahawk missiles were launched from U.S. Navy warships in the Mediterranean Sea, the U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. A target was identified as an airbase in Homs. Further details on the target and the results of the strikes were not immediately known.

 

Trump ordered the strikes just a day after he pointed the finger at Assad for this week's chemical attack, which killed at least 70 people, many of them children, in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun. The Syrian government has denied it was behind the attack.

 

Trump, who was attending a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Florida resort, said earlier on Thursday that "something should happen" with Assad as the White House and Pentagon studied military options.

 

U.S. military action put the new president at odds with Russia, which has air and ground forces in Syria after intervening there on Assad's side in 2015 and turning the tide against mostly Sunni Muslim rebel groups.

 

Trump has until now focussed his Syria policy almost exclusively on defeating Islamic State militants in northern Syria, where U.S. special forces are supporting Arab and Kurdish armed groups.

 

The risks have grown worse since 2013, when Barack Obama, Trump's predecessor, considered and then rejected ordering a cruise missile strike in response to the use of chemical weapons by Assad's loyalists.

 

(Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington; Writing by Matt Spetalnick and Jeff Mason; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Peter Cooney)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2017-04-07

 

 

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10 minutes ago, boomerangutang said:

                    Another angle:   Syrian rebels, and others who hate Assad (there are many factions, not least the Israelis and Saudis) ......could clandestinely poison Syrians.   They all know how seriously poisoning is viewed, particularly by westerners.  So, a mass poisoning in a non-Assad-held territory would trigger serious US/western military response - against Assad's troops.

What do you mean another angle? Assad and Russia have already claimed that 'rebels' were responsible for the recent chemical weapons attack.

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1 minute ago, thaibeachlovers said:

According to google, one such missile costs 1.4 milllion $. 50 missiles.............. that's a lot of money to make a point. I doubt they made much real difference, and the point could have been made with a few. 

IMO, Trump will regret getting involved in Syria. If Assad is removed a Libyan type anarchy is likely to emerge, as all the different opposition groups probably hate each other.

Better by far to ignore Turkey and give the Kurds whatever they need to do the job. They are the only group I would have time for in a post Assad scenario.

                     Trump has no sense of saving money.  He spends more on one of his weekly golf trips to FL than the annual budget for 'Meals on Wheels' program which he wants to eliminate.

 

                I too noticed that, in the OP article, that 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles were sent to that Syrian air field.  Two or 3 well-placed missiles would have sufficed.    On the other hand, Russia may not mind the US strike, because now the Russkies can replace the damaged jets - AND MAKE MORE MONEY.

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2 minutes ago, darksidedog said:

The Americans would seem to have some information on where the planes took off from, that launched the chemical strike.

50 Missiles is a lot, so I guess the idea was to render the place completely unusable again.

Given they have probably been expecting such an attack since Obama's "line in the sand", it might have done little real damage, depending on how deep they are buried. If done properly, only the deep penetration bombs would do much damage.

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4 minutes ago, darksidedog said:

The Americans would seem to have some information on where the planes took off from, that launched the chemical strike.

50 Missiles is a lot, so I guess the idea was to render the place completely unusable again.

...and place Assad, Putin and Khamenei on notice.

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1 minute ago, thaibeachlovers said:

Given they have probably been expecting such an attack since Obama's "line in the sand", it might have done little real damage, depending on how deep they are buried. If done properly, only the deep penetration bombs would do much damage.

I would wager that the 59 Tomahawk's will have for all intents and purposes, pretty much buggered it.

 

Coming soon... B52 carpet bombing. Just for a few hours though.

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Interesting comment.  Russian soldiers were at these bases 48 hours ago.  If so, were they aware of the use of chemical weapons?  If so, all bets are off.  But it's been confirmed Russian soldiers were there.  The US was in touch with Russia regarding these soldiers.  Who were obviously evacuated.

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3 minutes ago, craigt3365 said:

Libya is better off than Syria.  But yes, both places are a mess.  No easy answers.

No easy answers.

Exactly, and in my opinion, none that turn out well for anyone.

If the US bombs Assad out of power it will be a civil war between all the opposing rebel groups. If it sends in troops, it will be worse than Iraq.

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6 minutes ago, thaibeachlovers said:

No dispute that that is horrible, but one must know who to take the fight too, and that is by no means clear so far, I believe. Entirely possible it was done by IS, or as I think the Russians said, caused when a rebel gas depot was hit by non gas weapons.

Obama back tracked on his threat to "do something" before, but he made the right decision, IMO.

Yes, we definitely need all the facts.

 

Nevil Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler is  a lesson from history that is frequently ignored.

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BANGKOK 30 April 2017 20:07
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