US threatens further strikes in Syria

Cheryl Sanders
April 17, 2017

The Trump administration sent conflicting messages on what the strikes signaled for the overall USA policy in Syria.

The U.S. military operation might deter the use of chemical weapons in future attacks, experts said, but it is unlikely to shift the balance of power in a war that Assad's military has all but won.

"We are prepared to do more, but we hope that will not be necessary", she told the U.N. Security Council.

The president approved the strike while in Florida for a two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Legal precedent and many interpretations of the Constitution by federal courts all the way up to the Supreme Court have sided with previous presidents' legal authority to launch strikes on their own when they deem it in the national security interests of the country.

The strikes -59 missiles launched from the USS Ross and USS Porter - hit the government-controlled Shayrat air base in central Syria, where USA officials say the Syrian military planes that dropped the chemicals had taken off.

US officials informed Russian forces ahead of the missile strikes and avoided hitting Russian personnel.

A statement from the Syrian General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces called the U.S. response a "blatant act of aggression" which had caused six deaths and huge material damage.

Alex Jones, whose "Infowars" website is a hub for the far-right movement, but others allege is a wellspring of the "fake news" phenomenon, alleged that Tuesday's attack was launched by Syrian opposition.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's office said the action was "an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is meant to deter further attacks". France, Italy and Israel also welcomed the strikes. US officials noted that the timing of the strike had the possible added benefit of signaling to China that Trump is willing to make good on his threat to act alone to stop North Korea's nuclear pursuits if Beijing doesn't exert more pressure on Pyongyang.

"Well this is part of the problem in Syria, is Russia's sponsorship of this murderous regime", McMaster said on "Fox News Sunday".

Trump has frequently urged improved relations with Russian Federation, strained under Obama over Syria, Ukraine and other issues, was hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Thursday night when the attack occurred.

The result? "This changes the world probably", said Ledeen.

Syrian opposition claimed Tuesday forces loyal to President Bashar Assad had used a chemical gas on people in the northwestern province, killing almost 80 and injuring 200.

The U.S. assault marked a striking reversal for Trump, who warned as a candidate against the U.S. being pulled into the Syrian civil war that began six years ago.

US military officials said Friday they had watched a small drone flying over a hospital in Khan Sheikoun that was both a target of the chemical attack and also provided treatment for gas victims.

Citing the American claim that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and its consequent military invasion in the country, Mounzer said the USA was once again using fabricated evidence to justify its actions and spread hegemony around the world. Within 24 hours of the strike, monitoring groups reported that warplanes were again taking off from the bombed Shayrat air base, this time to attack Islamic State positions.

More importantly, Trump must consider the response of the American public. Just last week, the Trump administration signaled the USA was no longer interested in trying to push Assad from power over his direction of a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and led to the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

"I'm disappointed in that response", said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a global watchdog, said Thursday that it had initiated contact with Assad's government, and that it was investigating reports that the attack likely involved sarin, a nerve agent so deadly that it can kill in minutes. But there could be other problems.

With his strikes against a Syrian government target on Thursday night, Trump made clear that his Middle East policy won't just be driven by a single-minded focus on terrorist groups like ISIS or core national security threats - but could be expanded to address the United States' moral responsibility in the world.

The statement emphasized that the U.S. missile strikes on Syria amounted to a breach of all red lines, and the Syrian government's allies would respond to any future attack on the Arab country.

While Russia's forces are concentrated on Syria's western coastal region, focusing around the Khmeymim airfield and the Tartus port, Russian personnel have been embedded in Syrian ranks as training staff for years prior to the 2015 intervention.

Russian Federation has reacted angrily at unilateral U.S. action, calling it an act of "aggression" that will have "negative consequences".

Russia's Defense Ministry responded to the attack by calling in the USA military attache in Moscow to say that at midnight Moscow time (5 p.m. EDT) it would close down a communications line used to avoid accidental clashes between Russian and US forces in Syria, Interfax new agency said.

Some European countries, such as Germany, Britain, Italy and Turkey, have expressed their support for the air strike, while Russian Federation and Iran have condemned it, Reuters has reported.

McConnell said Vice President Mike Pence had called him to explain the rationale for the strikes.

He revealed his horror, saying the images "of innocent children, innocent babies" killed by poison gas were causing him to rethink his approach on Syria. Obama had declared the use of such weapons a "red line". "People are going to die, and more people are going to flee", she said on Friday. He had hardly portrayed himself as a humanitarian crusader on the campaign, when he adopted the slogan "America First".

The show of force in Syria raises legal questions.

"The arrogant U.S. did not have authority from anyone [to attack Syria], and treated the United Nations member states with total disrespect".

Viewed in that light, Trump's first major foreign-policy decision might carry lessons far beyond Syria or the Russians. Trump can't rely on either justification here.

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