04/14/2018, 09.06
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US, Britain, France 'punish' Damascus for chemical weapons

At least 100 missiles launched overnight on Damascus and Homs. No victims so far. The attack is justified by 'evidence' of the use of chemical weapons by Damascus. Russia accuses the British secret services of staging the Douma attack. The UN Secretary General pleads with all involved to avoid the escalation of the conflict.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The United States, Britain and France launched a series of overnight air raids against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime as a punishment for using chemical weapons on Douma a week ago, which the Syrians deny.

United States Chief of Staff Joe Dunford, said that the Western forces have hit three sites linked to chemical weapons production programs: one near Damascus and the other two near Homs, in the center of Syria. He also pointed out that missiles and bombs avoided hitting the Russian forces present in the country, and that Moscow had not been warned ahead of time about the targets, as Russia had requested the day before.

The the number of missiles launched by the allied forces is still unclear. Some estimate one hundred. The Syrian state agency Sana says the air defense system intercepted at least 13 missiles. No victims are reported. The London based Syrian Human Rights Observatory reports that scientific research centers, various military bases, and the headquarters of the Republican Guard in Damascus and its surroundings have been hit.

Over the past few hours, US President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis, British Prime Minister Theresa May, French Defense Minister, Ms. Florence Parly have all said the attack was aimed at destroying Damascus's ability to produce weapons to give an example to the international community not to use these instruments of death.

The attack took place just a few hours before a group of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived in Douma. They have the task to verify on site if there has been a chemical attack or not.

Over the past few days, Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister May have repeatedly spoken of having "evidence"  of the use of chemical weapons by Damascus, however without ever showing any. Moreover Syria and Russia have denied any involvement. Indeed, yesterday Russian Foreign Minister Serghei Lavrov accused the British secret services of staging a false attack with chemical weapons to justify attacks that weaken the Bashar Assad regime just as his government - with the help of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah – has been taking back the last pockets of resistance in the country after seven years of civil war.

Days ago, in an interview with AsiaNews, the Latin Rite Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, Msgr. Msgr. Georges Abou Khazen, had accused the "regional and world powers" of wanting to look for "a pretext to intervene with an even greater hardness, and to continue fighting", erasing any possibility of peace.

About a week ago Trump announced that he would withdraw US troops from Syria after the defeat of the Islamic State's jihadist groups. The alleged chemical attack and the bombings of tonight allow Washington - along with its powerful allies: Israel and Saudi Arabia - to remain part of the ongoing battle to ocunter the influence of Russia and Iran in the region.

Antonio Guterres, UN secretary general, in a statement published immediately following the attacks, asked all member states to "avoid any actions that could lead to an escalation and exacerbate the suffering of the Syrian people".

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