Source: Covers | New York Post
Jennifer Griffin and Lucas Tomlinson report: The United States launched nearly five dozen cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield early Friday in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians, the first direct assault on the Damascus government since the beginning of that country’s bloody civil war in 2011.
“It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” President Donald Trump said in a statement. “Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”
Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles targeted an airbase at Shayrat, located outside Homs. The missiles targeted the base’s airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas, officials said.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said initial indications were that the strike had “severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment … reducing the Syrian Government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.” There was no immediate word about any casualties.
Trump said the base was used as the staging point for Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack on rebel-held territory, which killed as many as 72 civilians, including women and children.
“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” Trump said from Mar-a-Lago, Fla. “Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said the strike should cause a “big shift in Assad’s calculus.”
“Obviously the regime maintains a certain capability to commit mass murder with chemical weapons beyond this air field,” McMaster said. “But it was aimed at this airfield because we could trace that attack back to this facility. It was not a small strike.”
The U.S. missiles hit at 8:45 p.m. Eastern time, 3:45 a.m. Friday morning in Syria. Syrian state TV called the attack an “aggression” that lead to “losses.”
U.S. military officials said they informed their Russian counterparts of the impending attack in an effort to avoid any accident involving Russian forces. Nevertheless, Russia’s Deputy U.N. ambassador Vladimir Safronkov warned that any negative consequences from the strikes would be on the “shoulders of those who initiated such a doubtful and tragic enterprise.”
Davis, the Pentagon spokesman, confirmed that “there are Russians at the base,” but said they had been warned “multiple times” to leave. He did not know whether Russian aircraft were at the base when the missiles hit. Read the rest of this entry »
The video emerged as CIA Director Brennan told the Center for Strategic and International Studies‘ annual Global Security Forum on Monday that he hoped the attacks were a wake-up call for security services and warned that ISIS will attempt more terror atrocities.
‘I would anticipate that this is not the only operation that ISIS has in the pipeline.’
This comes as thousands lined the streets of Paris for a minute’s silence to remember those killed in a wave of attacks which included suicide bombs at the Stade de France, a massacre at the Bataclan theatre and mass shootings at bars and restaurants across the city.
In Paris, President Francois Hollande and his cabinet, all dressed in black, bowed their heads at the Sorbonne University, surrounded by scores of students.
And at Place de la Republique near the site of many of Friday’s attacks, hundreds more stood still to remember the 129 people who were killed in the bloodbath.
Meanwhile, in the chilling film, which appeared on a site used by ISIS to post its messages, the video begins with news footage of the aftermath of Friday’s Paris shootings.
A message to countries involved in what it called the ‘crusader campaign’ was delivered by a man dressed in fatigues and a turban, and identified in subtitles as Al Ghareeb the Algerian.
It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the video, which purports to be the work of ISIS fighters in the Iraqi province of Salahuddine, north of Baghdad.