President Trump ordered airstrikes on Syria as a team of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was about to arrive on Saturday to determine whether a chemical weapons attack had even occurred, Joe Lauria reports.
By Joe Lauria
President Donald Trump on Saturday (Syria time) ordered air strikes against Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack last weekend outside Damascus.
“I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad,” Trump said from the White House.
The strikes were carried out together with Britain and France, he said. CNN reported explosions at a research facility near Damascus. At a news conference later, Pentagon officials said this “phase” of the missile strikes against three targets, one in the center of the Syrian capital, were completed and “no additional attacks are planned.”
U.S. officials said Russia had been told of the military operation and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told a press conference Friday night (Washington time) that Moscow was not informed of the Syrian targets. Russia had vowed to shoot down incoming U.S. and allied missiles as Russian military personnel are embedded with the Syrian Arab army at various locations in the country.
U.S. military analysts say the U.S. wanted to avoid hitting Russian targets, but once unleashed, military action can lead to unintended consequences.
Pentagon officials said they only had reports that Syrian, but not Russian, anti-missile defenses had been engaged. Whether any U.S. missiles or planes were hit would be made plain on Saturday morning in Washington, they said.
OPCW Team Was on the Way
A team of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was on its way to Syria after accepting an invitation from the Syrian government to study soil and other samples in Duma, the Damascus suburb where the alleged attack took place.
It’s not clear whether the U.S.-led operation would complicate their mission as the team was due to arrive later on…