US, allies attacking Syria to stop chemical weapons

US, allies attacking Syria to stop chemical weapons

Secretary of Defense James Mattis addressed reporters alongside Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford on Friday night - after a coalition of the USA joined France and the United Kingdom and launched airstrikes in Syria - and said the attack was a "one-time shot". "Right now we have no additional attacks planned".

Last year, in response to a chemical weapons attack against civilians and to signal the regime to cease chemical weapons use, we targeted the military base from which the weapons were delivered.

"Important infrastructure was destroyed".

Mattis put the onus for verification on an Organization on a Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding team assigned to investigate, saying Washington is trying to get them to the site outside of Damascus within the week.

"The strike was not only a strong message that their actions were inexcusable, but it has inflicted damage without unnecessary risk to innocent civilians", he added.

Syrian state television reported explosions near the capital and said Assad-backed forces shot down more than a dozen missiles.

Army Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the airstrikes began at 9 p.m., hitting three targets in or near Damascus that produced, tested or stored chemical weapons.

The last target was a military command post and chemical weapons storage facility.

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But in anticipation of any pushback from Syria or Russia, Dunford said the USA commander in Syria has changed the force protection levels for the 2,000 US troops there fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in case of retaliation.

"But our efforts have been repeatedly thwarted" by Syria and Russian Federation, she said.

Mattis said there were "no reports of losses" on the part of US and allied forces participating in the strike, which included manned aircraft. "We're looking very, very seriously, very closely at the whole situation", he told reporters. Those were active this week to work through the air space issues and so forth. Gen. Dunford said the United States used deconfliction lines to tell Russian Federation that they were using the airspace involved in the attack, but gave them no indication what was being hit.

The White Helmets, a civil defense agency, blamed the Assad regime for a chemical attack Saturday night in the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, which it said killed 78 civilians and injured hundreds of others. Trump wrote in a Thursday morning tweet (Friday NZT) that an attack could happen "very soon or not so soon at all".

Biological samples from the area of the alleged chemical attack have tested positive for chlorine and a sarin-like nerve agent, according to a United States official familiar with the United States analysis of the test results. "Absolutely confident. We have the intelligence level and confidence that we needed to conduct the attack", he said. Those weapons included chlorine and possible sarin gas.

He said the president had Article II authority, allowing him to protect USA forces deployed to Syria.

He adds that, "America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria - under no circumstances" and says that, "As other nations step up our contributions, we look forward to the day when we can bring our warriors home". The United States and allies struck Syria Friday night and Russian Federation has promised that the attack will come with consequences.

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