On the night of Friday to Saturday, Donald Trump announced that the United States, France and the United Kingdom have bombed targets of the Syrian regime.
The United States, France and the United Kingdom triggered concerted strikes in Syria on Friday night against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Update on what is known about this joint military intervention.
What are the forces involved?
On the French side, five multi-mission frigates, a supply boat, five Raffle, four Mirage 2000-5, accompanied by two Awacs and five tankers, participated in the operation, according to BFMTV. All French planes have now returned to their bases, while London used four Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 fighter jets equipped with Storm Shadow missiles.
The United States fired “types of ammunition”, including Tomahawk cruise missiles. According to Fox News, B-1 long-range bombers have also been hired. US Defense Minister Jim Mattis said US forces used twice as much ammunition as the US strike in April 2017 at the Al-Chaayrate military base near Homs.
The Syrian anti-aircraft defence has come into action intercepting 71 out of 103 missiles, according to the Russian army.
The operation, “complex”, called for a lot of “coordination” told BFMTV a source at the Elysee, and follows many exchanges in recent days between Emmanuel Macron, Theresa May and Donald Trump. The Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, shared on her Twitter account a video of a shot of a cruise missile, since a frigate of the French Navy in the Mediterranean that night.
Tir d’un missile de croisière naval depuis une de nos frégates multimissions cette nuit en Méditerranée. Objectif : un site de production d’armes chimiques du régime syrien. pic.twitter.com/A4hO0EtkvQ
— Florence Parly (@florence_parly) April 14, 2018
What were the targeted targets?
The British said they hit a military compound – an old missile base – 24 kilometres west of Homs, “where the regime is supposed to keep chemical weapons.” French President Emmanuel Macron stressed that the French strikes were “limited to the capabilities of the Syrian regime allowing the production and use of chemical weapons”.
According to General Joe Dunford, US Chief of Staff, Western forces targeted three targets related to the Syrian chemical weapons program, one near Damascus and the other two in the area of Homs, in the centre of Syria.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), scientific research centres, “several military bases” and premises of the Republican Guard in Damascus and its environs have been targeted. The targets targeted by the strikes were “completely empty”, their personnel having been evacuated “more than three days ago,” the OSDH said. The allies have, according to the Pentagon, taken care to avoid touching the Russian forces, massively present in the country.
Syrian state television reported “reports” that a “research centre” in the Barzé neighbourhood in north-eastern Damascus had been targeted. Still according to state television, missiles have been “intercepted”
The Russian army also assured that no civilian or military casualties were to be deplored, adding that the Syrian anti-aircraft defence had intercepted 71 of the 103 Western cruise missiles: “This testifies to the great effectiveness of these systems (anti-aircraft) and the excellent training of Syrian military personnel trained by our specialists,” Russian General Sergei Rudskoy said at a press conference.
Asked about BFMTV from the Quai d’Orsay in the late morning, the head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian, said that a “good part of the chemical arsenal” of the Syrian regime was destroyed, and that ” if by chance the red line was crossed again, there would be new strikes”.
The Syrian government on this Saturday publicly rejected the actions as “flagrant violation” of international law. President Bashar al-Assad said on Saturday he was more determined than ever to “fight terrorism” in Syria. “This aggression only reinforces Syria’s determination to continue fighting and crushing terrorism on every piece of territory,” Assad said in a telephone interview with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his part, denounced “with the utmost firmness” the strikes, convening in the wake of an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss “the aggressive actions of the United States and their allies” in Syria. Western strikes were carried out “without the approval of the UN Security Council, in violation of the UN Charter, the norms and principles of international law” and constitute “an act of aggression against” a sovereign state that is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism,” continued by the Kremlin.