Putin tells the world – ‘Attacking Syria again? You’ll need to get through me’:
- The US military fired more than 50 tomahawk missiles at al-Shayrat military airfield at 8.45pm EDT Thursday
- Moves comes just hours after Trump said ‘something should happen’ following Tuesday’s gas-attack atrocity
- Trump took action after more than 80 were killed and many more were injured in the Sarin poison gas attack
- ‘Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack,’ he said after launching the strike
- Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a furious response calling airstrike an ‘illegal act of aggression’
- US called ‘a partner of ISIS’ by al-Assad’s spokesman who said missile strikes are ‘reckless and irresponsible’
- Trump says airfield used to store toxic weapons and was the base for the aircraft involved in the Sarin attack
- Claims that nine were killed, and more were injured, in the strike which has severely damaged the airbase
- US told Moscow it was launching an airstrike about 30 minutes in advance – but did not ask for permission
Vladimir Putin has today diverted a warship to protect the Syrian coast and vowed to bolster Bashar al-Assad’s missile defences against further US strikes as fears grew the crisis could topple into war between Russia and the West.
The Russian President has immediately sent his Admiral Grigorovich frigate – armed with cruise missiles and a self-defence system – from the Black Sea to dock in Syria later.
It will pass through the east Mediterranean waters where the USS Ross and USS Porter fired the 59 Tomahawk missiles that pounded Assad’s al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs in the early hours of Friday.
In the continuing fight back Russian or Syrian planes also bombed the town of Khan Sheikhoun, the scene of Tuesday’s horrific chemical gas attack where 80 died, witnesses in the rebel-held area claimed.
The US was also branded ‘a partner of ISIS’ by al-Assad’s spokesman, calling the missile strikes ‘reckless and irresponsible’ and accused Trump of ‘naively falling’ for a ‘false propaganda campaign’ about the Idlib Sarin massacre.
Today world leaders praised the US strikes and urged Putin to hold urgent talks with Trump to prevent the Syria crisis escalating into a wider world conflict.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, speaking alongside German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, said: ‘We do not want an escalation. We have to stop the hypocrisy. If Russia is acting in good faith it should stop and negotiate’.
Russian warship the Admiral Grigorovich (pictured on recent deployment) – armed with cruise missiles and a self-defence system – is docking in Syria today after it was immediately diverted from the Black Sea following Donald Trump’s airstrike on al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs, which killed six and destroyed nine Syrian jets
Route: It will pass through the east Mediterranean waters where the USS Ross and USS Porter fired the 59 Tomahawk missiles that pounded Assad’s al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs in the early hours of Friday
First picture: These damaged hangars, blackened by smoke, are at the entrance to the Syrian airfield bombarded by the US
Pictures show the aftermath of the US missile attack on the al-Shayrat airbase in Syria this morning with one of the hangars reduced to rubble
A U.S. Navy image shows the USS Ross (DDG 71) firing a tomahawk land attack missile at the Syrian air base
President Donald Trump has launched a US airstrike against a Syrian air base after the gas atrocity which killed more than 80 people (pictured delivering a statement on Syria from the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, on April 6)
‘We do not wish to raise the stakes, but to find a solution. You can not deal with reality (use of chemical weapons) by resorting to propaganda.’
Earlier, Trump, speaking from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida where he is hosting the Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng as part of a two day summit, said the US had to act after the Syrian dictator launched the ‘horrible chemical weapons attack’ on innocent civilians.
‘Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack,’ he said. ‘It was a slow and brutal death for so many.’
Pentagon officials said that the airfield was being used to store chemical weapons and was a base for Syrian air forces – including the aircraft that conducted the chemical weapons attack.
Syria’s state agency SANA claimed that the missiles killed nine civilians, including four children, even though the bombarded the airbase in the middle of the night. There were reports nine Syrian jets were destroyed.
The Pentagon has released dramatic footage of its missiles being launched from USS Ross, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, targeting the Syrian base.
Putin this morning denounced the strike as an ‘act of aggression against a UN member’ and suspended a deal to avoid mid-air clashes with American fighter jets over the war-torn country. The Kremlin’s propaganda machine clicked into hear claiming the strikes had ‘extremely low’ military effectiveness and that just 23 of 59 cruise missiles reached the air base, destroying six Syrian jets but leaving the runway intact.
Syrian Army officials called the US airstrike a act of ‘blatant aggression’, saying it had made America ‘a partner’ of ISIS, the ex-Nusra Front and other ‘terrorist organisations’.
The US used a special military-to-military hotline to warn Russia it was launching an airstrike on a Syrian air base about 30 minutes in advance – but the Trump administration did not ask Moscow for permission. It is likely Russia alerted the Syrians about the incoming strikes but this has not been confirmed.
Viktor Ozerov, head of the defense committee in the Russian Federation Council, told state news agency RIA that the US strikes ‘may undermine the efforts in the fight against terrorism in Syria.’
‘Russia will demand an urgent UN Security Council meeting after the US airstrike on Syrian aviation base. This is an act of aggression against a UN member.’
Russia’s foreign minister says no Russian servicemen have been hurt in the bombing raid. Its security council said it regretted the ‘harm’ done to relations between Washington and Moscow.
A Pentagon official told DailyMail.com that the president ‘is dead-set against letting Assad labor under the illusion that the Syrian army can murder innocent people with impunity.’
A US-launched missile heads for the al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs in Syria on Thursday night where it caused severe damage to military aircraft and weapons
Smoke could be seen rising from the Homs airbase targeted by US missile strikes. The military action has already sparked a furious response from President Vladimir Putin, who this morning called the airstrikes an ‘illegal act of aggression’
Pictures show rubble strewn across the airfield at the Syrian military base this morning. The Syrian Army called it an ‘act of ‘aggression’
Target: In the early hours of this morning the strikes were launched from two US destroyers in the Med and have killed at least five and destroyed at least nine Syrian jets, a fuel store and badly damaged the runway at al-Shayrat airbase
Aerial pictures show the airbase targeted in the strikes. Pentagon officials said that the airfield was being used to store chemical weapons and was a base for Syrian air forces
About 60 of theses US Tomahawk missiles launched early Friday hit the Shayrat air base, southeast of the city of Homs, a small installation with two runways
The US military fired more than 50 tomahawk missiles at the al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs on Thursday
HOW THE WORLD REACTED
From strong messages of support to fierce condemnation, here are the main global reactions to a US strike on a Syria air base in response to a suspected chemical attack.
RUSSIA: Unsurprisingly, the main ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was robust in its opposition to the strike.
The strikes were an ‘aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international norms,’ the Kremlin said in a statement.
The action has inflicted ‘considerable damage’ to already ‘lamentable’ US-Russia ties, it added.
As a first practical response, Moscow said it would ‘halt’ its deal with the US to avoid clashes in Syrian airspace.
Russia also called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting following the strikes.
IRAN: The Iranian regime, another Syrian ally, ‘strongly condemned’ the strike, just as it condemned ‘all unilateral military action’.
It said the US action was taken under the ‘pretext’ of the chemical strike.
FRANCE/GERMANY: In a joint statement, President Francois Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Assad bore ‘sole responsibility’ for the US strike following the suspected chemical attack.
BRITAIN: The close American ally said it ‘fully supported’ the strikes, judging them an ‘appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack’. It said the strikes were ‘intended to deter further attacks.’
TURKEY: NATO ally Turkey, which is a key player in the Syria conflict and has endured choppy relations with Washington recently, welcomed the strikes as ‘positive.’
The deputy foreign minister added: ‘We believe that the Assad regime must be punished completely in the international arena.’
Turkey called for a no-fly zone in Syria in the wake of the US strike.
SAUDI ARABIA: A foreign ministry official hailed US President Donald Trump as ‘courageous’ for taking action when ‘the international community has failed to put a halt to the regime’s actions.’
ISRAEL: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel ‘fully supports’ the ‘strong and clear message’ sent by the air strikes. He added that the message should ‘resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere.’
JAPAN: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that Japan ‘supports the US government’s resolve that it will never tolerate the spread and use of chemical weapons.’
SYRIAN REBELS: A leading Syrian rebel group said one strike was ‘not enough’, adding that there were ’26 airbases that target civilians.’
CHINA: Beijing offered a nuanced reaction, saying it was ‘urgent’ to avoid ‘further deterioration of the situation.’
A foreign ministry spokeswoman added: ‘We oppose use of chemical weapons by any country, organisation or individual in any circumstance, for any purpose.’
‘We’ve laid down a marker. No more chemical weapons attacks, period. There will be consequences. Our president is showing his American conscience, and if anyone provokes him they will regret it.’
The official said the Trump administration hopes Assad ‘will change his ways.’
The longtime Pentagon veteran said he was in the chain of command that led to Thursday night’s attacks, but couldn’t predict what might come next.
‘We’ve got a new president,’ he said. ‘And that means none of our adversaries knows how he will react to any given situation. That’s a huge advantage that Assad may not have considered.’
Despite repeated questions, neither Secretary of State Rex Tillerson nor National Security Adviser HR McMaster would confirm whether China’s Xi Jinping was informed of the strike ahead of time. However officials confirmed to AFP that Trump had informed Xi personally of the Syria strike before it occurred.
The strikes have won broad international support with officials saying that Canada and other allies were behind the move.
Britain backed the US missile strike, describing it as an ‘appropriate response’, as the government offered its full support to Trump’s targeted assault.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: ‘The UK Government fully supports the US action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks.’
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said Syrian president Assad bore ‘sole responsibility’ for the US strike on a regime airbase.
In a joint statement on Friday, they said: ‘After the chemical weapons massacre of April 4 on Khan Sheikhun in northwestern Syria, a military installation of the Syrian regime was destroyed by a US air strike last night.
‘President Assad bears sole responsibility for this development.’
Hollande added that the US strike was what France had been calling for in the wake of another chemical attack in 2013.
Both he and Merkel said their countries would continue to work with UN partners in ‘efforts to hold President Assad responsible for his criminal acts.’
EU President Donald Tusk said the action demonstrated ‘needed resolve’ against chemical attacks. ‘US strikes show needed resolve against barbaric chemical attacks. EU will work with the US to end brutality in Syria,’ Tusk said in a tweet.
Israel’s prime minister also welcomed the US attack saying he ‘fully supports’ President Trump’s decision.
Benjamin Netanyahu said ‘in both word and action’ Trump ‘sent a strong and clear message’ that ‘the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.’
It is not yet clear what China’s response has been to Trump’s decision to brazenly announce the strike on Syria while the president was his guest. China has backed Syrian-ally Russia’s attempts to protect Assad’s government and vetoed six resolutions on Syria.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today condemned the US cruise missile attack and has suggested it ‘risks escalating the war in Syria’.
The 67-year-old described the chemical attack on Tuesday as a ‘war crime’ which needs an ‘urgent independent UN investigation’.
Turkey called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s immediate ouster on Friday, voicing support for a U.S. missile strike on one of his air bases and saying the creation of safe zones to protect civilians was now more important than ever.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to Twitter on Friday to denounce the strikes, saying: ‘Not even two decades after 9/11, U.S. military fighting on same side as al-Qaeda & ISIS in Yemen & Syria. Time to stop hype and cover-ups.’
During his public address from his Mar-a-Lago estate, Trump said that it was ‘vital’ to the national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.
‘There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention, and ignored the urging of the UN security council,’ he said.
‘Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behaviour have all failed and failed very dramatically.
‘As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.
‘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.’
U.S. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham said in a joint statement that the administration plans to ‘learn the lessons of history’ and follow the strikes with a ‘new, comprehensive strategy in coordination with our allies and partners to end the conflict in Syria.’
‘The first measure in such a strategy must be to take Assad’s air force – which is responsible not just for the latest chemical weapons attack, but countless atrocities against the Syrian people – completely out of the fight,’ they said.
‘We must also bolster support for the vetted Syrian opposition and establish safe zones to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis. As we do, we can and must continue the campaign to achieve ISIS’s lasting defeat.’
Anti-Assad Syrians have been celebrating the strike after the horrific chemical weapons attack.
WHO SUPPORTS WHO IN THE BATTLE FOR SYRIA?
Russia – Gives military support, condemns the US airstrikes and suspends deal not to clash mid-air
Iran – Close strategic allies with Syria and has provided significant support including $8.69billion
North Korea – UN probe found that North Korea was supplying arms to Syria
Iraq – The Iraqi Government provided financial support and transported supplies
Algeria – Rumours suggest Algerian military aircraft is regularly landing in Syria
Venezuela – The South American country has shipped tens of millions of dollars worth of diesel to Syria
Lebanon – Police arrested family after they protested about the Syrian Government
Belarus – President Alexander Lukashenko supported Moscow’s involvement and offered air strike
Lebanese Hezbollah Party – Involvement has been substantial and has deployed troops since 2012
US – President Donald Trump launches first airstrikes since six-year civil war started
UK – Supports US cruise airstrikes as Theresa May said chemical attack was ‘despicable’
France/Germany – Both of the countries today said Assad bears ‘sole responsibility’ for US strike
Turkey – Opposed to Assad but objects to Syrian rebels and wants control of Kurdish area
Canada – Canada gave more than $4.97million to the Syrian opposition in 2013
Saudi Arabia – The Middle East country is the main group to finance the rebels and has provided a large amount of weapons
Israel – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the first to praise the US’s retaliatory attack, saying he ‘fully supports’ Donald Trump’s decision to launch the cruise missile attacks
Qatar – It was reported Qatar gave the Syrian rebels $2.98 billion at the start of the civil war in 2011