Haley warns United States "locked and loaded" if Syria uses chemical weapons again

Jeannie Matthews
April 15, 2018

The US, France, and the United Kingdom have ramped up pressure on Syria's government by pledging strong reactions to the alleged gas attack, with France warning it would retaliate if evidence emerged that the "red line" of chemical weapons had been crossed. An entire new generation of US troops is deployed now in Afghanistan as well as Syria.

The crisis seemed to quickly ease, however.

Russian Federation called for an emergency session of United Nations Security Council on Saturday. And for the second time in his presidency, the USA commander-in-chief demanded retaliation.

Vice President Mike Pence, in Peru for a meeting of regional leaders, said "there will be a price to pay" involving military force if Syrian chemical weapons are used again.

President Bashar al-Assad has been in power in Syria since 2000. Despite Trump's bellicose threats last week, he made no attempt to decapitate the government in Damascus, or even to incapacitate its war-making ability.

Disputing the Russian military's contention that Syrian air defense units downed 71 allied missiles, McKenzie said no USA or allies missiles were stopped.

With such an unstable and inconsistent commander-in-chief, it's even more important for Congress to reassert its constitutional authority to declare war, and for Republican leaders to find their backbone.

By launching strikes without prior approval from parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May dispensed with a non-binding constitutional convention dating back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but said speed was essential and that military action was in the national interest.

The Russian military said that 103 cruise missiles were fired including Tomahawk missiles, but that Syrian air defense systems managed to intercept 71 cruise missiles. Nor were any attacking aircraft struck. They came from the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf and the Mediterranean, homing in from three directions to overwhelm whatever missile defenses Assad's regime might employ.

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The strategy of avoiding Syrian airspace and firing from multiple directions simultaneously was created to confuse and overwhelm Syrian and Russian air defense systems.

The strikes on Saturday morning were limited to sites believed to be linked to Mr Al Assad's chemical weapons and caused no reported casualties. "So there is no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime", May said.

Syrian air defenses, however, responded firmly, shooting down most of the missiles fired at the country.

The three sites targeted were "fundamental components" to Syria's chemical weapons program, according to Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie.

"The Syrian regime knew full well what it was doing", he said.

"They lost a lot of equipment". Under the agreement, it was agreed that the estimate was "1,000 tons of chemical weapons, including the blister agent, Sulphur mustard, and sarin nerve agent". "I think these strikes are aimed at sending a message to other actors on the ground not to attack the USA forces in eastern Syria or threaten them", Karim said. "This time we went, the strikes went at the very heart of the enterprise to the research, to develop, to storage". The participation of British and French forces enables Trump to assert a wider global commitment against the use of chemical weapons, but the multi-pronged attack carries the risk of Russian retaliation.

The first of the targets was a research center near the capital city of Damascus; 76 missiles were launched against the center.

"We are confident that we have crippled Syria's chemical weapons program".

The strike was surely more effective than last year's nearly perfunctory "pinprick" attack on a Syrian airfield, which had no perceptible impact on Assad's operational capabilities. New satellite images from Planet.com show that building has been reduced to rubble.

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