Syria crisis

  • Here's some of what U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Russian UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said at the UN Security Council

  • Questions about what's happening?

    CBC's Steven D'Souza and World Policy fellow Jonathan Cristol are answering them. Ask yours on Facebook or on YouTube.
  • U.S. military video of Syrian missile strikes: The U.S. Department of Defence released video of the guided missile destroyer from the USS Monterey in the Mediterranean Sea

  • "I stress the need to avoid the situation from spiralling out of control. ... At this critical juncture, I call on all Members to act consistently with the Charter of the United Nations and with international law, including the norms against chemical weapons. If the law is ignored, it is undermined. There is no military solution to the crisis.  The solution must be political." 

    — UN Secretary-General António Guterres

  • Your questions on Syria, answered

    CBC reporter Steven D'Souza will be with World Policy fellow Jonathan Cristol at 1pm ET answering all your questions about what's happening. You can watch the Q&A here or on Twitter, and ask your questions here on YouTube and here on Facebook
  • Pentagon update on the Syrian strikes

  • Andrew Scheer: "The Official Opposition wholeheartedly supports the United States, The United Kingdom, and France"

    Conservative leader Andrew Scheer tweeted support for the strikes this morning. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau already expressed his support for the strikes. (NDP leader Jagmeet Singh hasn't said anything on Twitter yet.) 

  • Nikki Haley at the UN Security council: 

    "I spoke to the president this morning and he said if the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded."


    “We’ve spent a week talking about the unique horror of chemical weapons. The time for talk ended last night.”

     — U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley at the UN Security Council


    Russian federation at the UN Security Council: 

    "This is how you want international affairs to be conducted now? This is hooliganism."

    Was last night's attack on Syria legal? 

    In the U.K., labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn is already raising the question
    The U.K. released a policy paper this morning, outlining its case for the legality of last night's strike, which it said was meant "to alleviate the extreme humanitarian suffering of the Syrian people by degrading the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deterring their further use."
    "The UK is permitted under international law, on an exceptional basis, to take measures in order to alleviate overwhelming humanitarian suffering. The legal basis for the use of force is humanitarian intervention." It says there are three conditions that permit the use of force:
    1. Convincing evidence of "extreme humanitarian distress on a large scale" that is generally accepted by the international community.
    2. "It must be objectively clear that there is no practicable alternative to the use of force if lives are to be saved."
    3. That the use of force needs to be "necessary and proportionate" and "strictly limited in time and in scope."
    The statement also calls out Syrian allies (like Russia): 
    "Actions by the UK and its international partners to alleviate the humanitarian suffering caused by the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime at the UN Security Council have been repeatedly blocked by the regime’s and its allies’ disregard for international norms."

    Does bombing chemical weapons sites disperse the chemicals?

    The question came up at today's Pentagon briefing. Here's an interesting back and forth between a reporter and Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.:

    Q: General McKenzie, could you speak about in Barzeh and these other facilities, were there actually, are you convinced there were chemical agents inside at the time of the strike, how did you mitigate not having the dispersal of a chemical agent cloud? ...

    A: I'll start, Barbara. So, as we look at each of these targets, we have a variety of sophisticated models, plume analysis, other things, to calculate the possible effects of chemical or nerve agents being in there. In relation to the Barzeh target, yes, we assessed that there were probably some chemical and nerve agents in that target. However, we believe that by the way we attacked it, the attack profile that we used, the way our weaponiers looked at it, we were able to minimize that, and so I just leave it at that. You’ll be able to judge, over the next few hours, the results of that, but we believe that we successfully mitigated against the fact that there are illegal and unauthorised weapons at these sites.

    Q: Very briefly, are you doing any post-attack air sampling to see if there was any dispersal?

    A: We look at the target through a variety of means.


    If you're looking for CBC reporters on Twitter reporting on Syria, follow @cbcsteve, @matt_kwong, @cbcchrisbrown, @nilkoksalcbc

    What is the strategy? 

    With Trump saying the strikes were part of a "sustained response" and Defence Secretary Gen. James Mattis saying "this is a one-time shot," there may not be any long-term strategy for Syria. And one thing that may have been missing: A clear call-out by Trump on Friday for Russian President Vladimir Putin to demand Russian troops leave Syria and stop supporting Assad. Former White House director of global engagement said Brett Bruen called it "a missed opportunity that Trump did not seize the moment."


    Trump's 'sustained response' to Syria's chemical attack clashes with Mattis's 'one-time shot' | CBC News

    It wasn't so much a protracted war the Trump administration was waging on Syria, but a 17-minute military "operation." And now it's over. The conflicting descriptions of the plan by the defence secretary and the President Trump raise concerns there may not, in fact, be a comprehensive strategy for Syria.


    Here's what the bombing sites looked like this morning

    Here's some of what the Pentagon said this morning

    The Pentagon gave a briefing this morning with an update by Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White and Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., director, Joint Staff.
    On the strike: McKenzie called the strike "precise, overwhelming and effective." He also said that all aircraft safely returned, and that while Syria launched 40 surface-to-air missiles in response, they were launched after the attack was over, and were not effective. "No Syrian weapon had any effect on anything we did."
    On casualties: "We are not aware of any civilian casualties," he said, but noted that the missiles launched by Syria in response "had to come down somewhere."
    On what comes next: White said that's up to Syria and President Bashar al-Assad. "We sent a very clear message last night, and we hope he heard it," she said.
    On the reasons: "It is clear to everyone that the Syrian people have suffered for too long," White said. But she also added: "Our mission remains the same: To defeat ISIS. It is not to get involved in the civil war."

    The OPCW fact-finding mission is still going ahead

    The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons tweeted this morning that its fact-finding mission is still going ahead. The global chemical weapons watchdog received the request last Tuesday from the Syrian government and its Russian backers to investigate the allegations of a chemical weapons attack last weekend in Douma. 

    The sites targeted by the strikes 

    Here are the locations targeted by the strikes, and a sense of where they sit in the region. The sites near Homs are reported to be a military facility where Syria had stockpiled chemical weapons and a command post site thought to be used for chemical weapons storage. The site near Damascus is scientific research centre in the district of Barzeh. Prime Minister Theresa May said the U.K.'s target was the site 15 miles (24 kilometres) west of Homs.
    The locations in Syria targeted by the strikes.

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says he supported the strikes: "This will reduce the regime's ability to further attack the people of Syria with chemical weapons."


    U.S., France, U.K. to brief NATO allies today on Syria strikes | CBC News

    The U.S. and allies have fired more than 100 missiles at Syria in what the Pentagon is calling a “one-time shot,” following evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for a chemical weapons attack last weekend.

    More Syrian response

    Pro-Assad Aleppo member of parliament Fares Shehabi had this to say on Twitter this morning in response to a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump:
    "Well, your nice, new, and smart missiles turned out to be as dump as you are! Most were shot down by old Soviet era systems..! Your jihadi terrorists will be not only be defeated but crushed now bet on it.."

    Syrian response

    President Bashar al-Assad has arrived at his office Saturday morning, just hours after the U.S., U.K. and France dropped missiles on his country. A video posted to his Twitter account shows him arriving by himself, with just a briefcase.
    The Syrian military said nearly 110 missiles hit targets in the capital Damascus and other territory, and that their air defence systems brought most of them down. "Such attacks will not deter our armed forces and allied forces from persisting to crush what is left of the armed terrorist groups," the military said.

    Honking horns and blasting music

    This comes from Associated Press reporter Bassem Mroue who is on the streets of Damascus this morning, watching Syrians protest Friday's missile strikes. Keep in mind, it's still only 9:39 a.m. in Damascus, so this is quite the wake up.

    Where it happened

    As I mentioned earlier, there were three targets in the strike: A scientific research centre in the greater Damascus area, a chemical storage facility west of Homs and a command post site in the vicinity of the Homs target, thought to be used for chemical weapons storage.
    Damascus is the capital of Syria and now its largest population wise after the fall of Aleppo, while Homs is the next biggest city in Syria. This should give you an idea of where each target was: 

    Australia also supports strike

    Australia's defence minister Marise Payne hosted a news conference not long ago, where she confirmed that Australia was not involved in the strike, but supported it.
    "The strike was calibrated, proportionate, and targeted. It has reduced the regime's ability to use chemical weapons in the future and sends a clear and strong message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated by the international community."
    Australian defence minister Marise Payne (Reuters)

    Hockey trending over Syria strike

    Syria may have been hit by missiles but according to Google Trends, it is hockey that is more on people's minds at this hour.
    The hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Vegas Golden Knights is trending higher than the situation in Syria online in Canada at the moment. The game is tied 1-1 in the middle of its second overtime.

    Turkey approves of the attack

    The Turkish foreign ministry called the strikes an "appropriate response" to the situation in Syria. Turkey is the latest country to weigh in on the strikes and be in favour of them. Those who have condemned them include Russia, Iran and yes, Syria.

    Reuters: Russia likely to call U.N. meeting

    "Russian lawmaker Vladimir Dzhabarov said on Saturday that Russia was likely to call for a meeting of the United Nations security council to discuss U.S., British and French air strikes on Syria, RIA news agency cited him as saying.

    "The situation is being analysed right now. Russia will demand a meeting of the U.N. security council, I am sure," Dzhabarov, who is the deputy head of Russia's foreign affairs committee, was quoted by RIA as saying."

    Analysis on the attacks 

    Experts were live on The National this evening reacting to the strikes as they happened. The show spoke to Brian Stewart with the Munk School of Global Affairs and Thom Nichols, a professor at the U.S Naval War college, to get their thoughts on the potential fallout of the co-ordinated strikes. Have a watch:

    Iran condemns strike

    As expected, Iran has condemned the strike, just like they did during the attack last year. Iran's Foreign Ministry said that the U.S., U.K. and France would be responsible for the consequences in the region.

    Here's part of their statement: "Undoubtedly, the United States and its allies, which took military action against Syria despite the absence of any proven evidence ... will assume the responsibility for the regional and trans-regional consequences of this adventurism." 

    This lack of evidence of chemical weapons use is a recurring thread between Syria, Russia and now Iran. Ahead of the strikes, Russia said its experts had been on the ground in Douma and found no sign of chemical weapons.

    Protests in Damascus

    A look at some of the early morning protests in Damascus. Syrians there have taken to the streets, waving Syria and Russian flags. 

    Omar Sanadiki/Reuters
    Omar Sanadiki/Reuters
    Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

    Trump's actions contradictory

    His choice to launch missiles not once, but twice now, directly contradicts what he said about doing just that back in 2013, as seen in this archived tweet.

    The view from the Middle East

    The CBC's Derek Stoffel, the Middle East bureau chief has this dispatch as the region wakes up. It is currently 7:41 a.m. in Syria.
    "Inside Syria, we’re hearing the usual bravado from State television that the country and the regime has weathered these strikes from the United States and its French and British allies. Pro-government voices are saying that at the sites that there were targeted, there was enough time before the military action to move equipment. There were celebrations in the streets of Damascus this morning, as pro-Assad Syrians came out to denounce the military action and the countries that carried it out.
    The strikes come ahead of a planned visit by inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to Douma, the site of the suspected chemical attack last weekend. It’s unclear how the military action will affect their investigation. 
    Outside of Syria, across the Middle East, the region is waking up to news of the strikes. They will be broadly welcomed in Israel, which has been pushing the U.S. to take action, as Israel continues to worry about the military build-up of Iranian forces within Syria. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also backing the strikes, saying the use of chemical weapons must be stopped."

    Russia's foreign ministry weighs in

    Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova posted on Facebook, blaming western media for their hand in the strikes. 
    "The White House stated that its assuredness of the chemical attack from Damascus was based on 'mass media, reports of symptoms, video, photos as well as credible information.' After this statement the American and other western mass media should understand their responsibility in what is happening."

    The view from Damascus

    Associated Press reporter Bassem Mroue is on the ground there and tweeted this photo out a few minutes ago as the city wakes up post-strike.

    Trump has a lot on his mind

    Here's a dispatch from CBC's Lyndsay Duncombe, reporting from the Washington bureau: 
    "This action in Syria can’t be viewed without considering all the other things occupying the president’s attention right now. Just hours before the attack, Trump went on a scathing twitter tirade -- calling former FBI Director James Comey a slime ball. We learned the criminal investigation into Trump’s personal lawyer has been going on for months -- and lawyers for Cohen are trying to keep material taken in raids away from the justice department.
    There were reports Trump and Cohen talked today. The military strikes in Syria may -- at least for now -- take the attention away from relentless reporting on Trump’s scandals. But Democrats are already using the combination of chaos -- and military action to raise fears of what may be next. Senator Tim Kaine tweeted "Today it’s Syria, what’s going to stop him from bombing Iran or North Korea next."
    • Thomson Reuters

    'Early warning'

    Here's some reporting from Reuters:
    The Syrian government and its allies have absorbed a U.S.-led attack on Saturday and the  targeted sites were evacuated days ago thanks to a warning from  Russia, a senior official in a regional alliance that backs Damascus said.
    "We have absorbed the strike", the official told Reuters.
    "We had an early warning of the strike from the Russians ... and all military bases were evacuated a few days ago," the official said. Around 30 missiles were fired in the attack, and a third of them were shot down, the official said.
    "We are carrying out an assessment of the material damages," the official added.
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been backed in the seven-year-long Syrian war by Russia, Iran, and Iran-backed Shi'ite groups from across the region, including Lebanon's Hezbollah.

    France tweets video of aircraft takeoff

    French president Emmanuel Macron says they have proof the Syrian regime attacked with chlorine gas. Macron said France would not tolerate "regimes that think everything is permitted."
    "The red line declared by France in May 2017 has been crossed," he wrote in a statement after the strike announcement.

    The reaction in Peru 

    That's where the Summit of the Americas is being held. Trump is not at the meeting and vice president Mike Pence is there in his place.
    He abruptly left the opening ceremonies this evening. According to Reuters, he raced to his hotel in order to call "Republican and Democratic congressional leaders before the strikes started." He was expected to return to a banquet at Peru's presidential palace.
    Prime minister Justin Trudeau and foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland are also in Peru and plan to meet with Pence tomorrow. Earlier today, Freeland blamed last week's chemical weapons attack on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. You can read more about what she had to say below:

    Trudeau states support for U.S.-led strikes in Syria

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada supports the decision by the U.S., the United Kingdom and France to bomb targets in Syria over the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons.

    Watch the Pentagon briefing

    Pentagon press briefing on Syria

    Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford announce "precision strikes" against targets associated with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons.

    Reaction from Russian Embassy in U.S.

    Russia is just starting to wake up ... it is 6 a.m. in Moscow, so we are expecting more reaction from there shortly. There is a statement out from the Embassy of Russia in the U.S. though. Russian ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov is warning of "consequences."
    "All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris. Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible."

    Good evening

    Here's what we know so far. U.S. President Donald Trump, along with France and the U.K., have launched "precision strikes" against targets associated with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons on Friday.
    The strikes targeted three sites, the U.S. military said: 
    • A scientific research centre in the greater Damascus area, which an official said was being used for research and development of chemical and biological warfare.
    • A chemical storage facility west of Homs, which the military had assessed to be a location of sarin and production equipment.
    • A site in the vicinity of the Homs target, which had been assessed to be used for chemical weapons storage and a command post. 
    We've got the latest here:

    Trump targets chemical weapon sites with strikes in Syria

    U.S. President Donald Trump, along with France and the U.K., launched "precision strikes" against targets associated with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons, saying the strikes were a bit to deter future chemical attacks.
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