Explosions rock Syrian capital as Trump announces strikes

Explosions light up the skies with anti-aircraft fire, over Damascus, the Syrian capital, as the U.S. launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, Syria, early Saturday, April 14, 2018. Syria's capital has been rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke as U.S. President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country's alleged use of chemical weapons. | AP photo by Hassan Ammar, St. George News

BEIRUT (AP) — Loud explosions rocked Syria’s capital and filled the sky with heavy smoke early Saturday after U.S. President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country’s alleged use of chemical weapons. Syrian television reported that air defenses responded to the attack.

Associated Press reporters saw smoke rising from east Damascus and the sky turned orange. A huge fire could be seen from a distance to the east. Syrian television reported that a scientific research center had been hit.

Syrian media reported that air defenses hit 13 rockets south of Damascus. After the attack ceased and the early morning skies went dark once more, vehicles with loudspeakers roamed the streets of Damascus blaring nationalist songs.

“Good souls will not be humiliated,” Syria’s presidency tweeted after airstrikes began.

Trump announced Friday night that the three allies had launched military strikes to punish President Bashar Assad for the alleged chemical weapons use and to prevent him from doing it again.

This Sunday April 2018 file image made from video released by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, shows medical workers treating toddlers following an alleged poison gas attack in the opposition-held town of Douma, near Damascus, Syria, April 8, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP, St. George News

The U.S. president said the U.S. is prepared to “sustain” pressure on Assad until he ends what the president called a criminal pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons. It was not immediately clear whether Trump meant the allied military operation would extend beyond an initial nighttime round of missile strikes.

Trump said the joint attack was expected to include barrages of cruise missiles launched from outside Syrian airspace. He described the main aim as establishing “a strong deterrent” against chemical weapons use.

The Syrian government has repeatedly denied any use of banned weapons.

The decision to strike, after days of deliberations, marked Trump’s second order to attack Syria; he authorized a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles to hit a single Syrian airfield in April 2017 in retaliation for Assad’s use of sarin gas against civilians.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, speaks at a briefing in Moscow on Friday, April 13 | AP Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko, St. George News

Trump chastised Syria’s two main allies, Russia and Iran, for their roles in supporting “murderous dictators,” and noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin had guaranteed a 2013 international agreement for Assad to get rid of all of his chemical weapons. He called on Moscow to change course and join the West in seeking a more responsible regime in Damascus.

The allied operation comes a year after the U.S. missile strike that Trump said was meant to deter Assad from further use of chemical weapons. Since that did not work, a more intense attack would aim to degrade his ability to carry out further such attacks, and would try to do this by hitting Syrian aircraft, military depots and chemical facilities, among other things.

The one-off missile strike in April 2017 targeted the airfield from which the Syrian aircraft had launched their gas attack. But the damage was limited, and a defiant Assad returned to episodic use of chlorine and perhaps other chemicals.

Friday’s strikes appear to signal Trump’s willingness to draw the United States more deeply into the Syrian conflict. The participation of British and French forces enables Trump to assert a wider international commitment against the use of chemical weapons, but the multi-pronged attack carries the risk of Russian retaliation.

In his nationwide address, Trump stressed that he has no interest in a longtime fight with Syria.

“America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria under no circumstances,” he said. “As other nations step up their contributions, we look forward to the day when we can bring our warriors home.”

The U.S. has about 2,000 troops on the ground in Syria as advisers to a makeshift group of anti-Islamic State fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces. They are in eastern Syria, far from Damascus. A U.S.-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes in Syria since September 2014 as part of a largely successful effort to break the IS grip on both Syria and Iraq.

Written by SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • SSTEED April 13, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    Isn’t it amazing how Assad only gasses his own people at the strategically worst possible times? You would think that they are being set up and lied about so our arms dealers can keep business booming.

    • comments April 13, 2018 at 9:47 pm

      nailed it. I guess US gov’t will be “saving” the syrians from the big mean dictator the same way they “saved” Iraq. Get ready for a full destabilization and civilian blood bath. Trump really is a piece of garbage. He’ll be fully cowing to the war interests and Israel agenda from here on out, no question.

      • comments April 13, 2018 at 9:51 pm

        oh, and cold war #2 with the ruskis back in full swing. smh

      • Brian April 14, 2018 at 1:07 am

        Trump? You realize this whole Syria thing was started by Obama and Clinton? The Syrians were SO much better off before they got involved. As were the Libyans. As were the Afghani’s (under Bush). As were the Iraqi’s (under Bush). See the pattern? It has nothing to do with the D and the R. They’re just the paint job.

        • comments April 14, 2018 at 10:57 am

          i know, brian. i guess i still held onto a tiny bit of hope that this creature called ‘the donald’ might end up being a little different. MSM and their war profiteer owners will be getting the war they’ve been craving for years. I hear that the donald has changed his mind about the TPP also. He’ll be cowing to his war profiteer and bankster overlords from here on out I guess. I know all too well about clinton and obama and their war mongering ways. Unfortunately there are more powerful people than presidents who run the show from behind the scenes. It’s all a facade. Better not to even think about it I suppose.

      • Striker4 April 14, 2018 at 6:22 am

        lol ! a piece of garbage calling trump a piece of garbage

  • comments April 13, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    The POS trump is probably just ramping up a war to take attention of his own embarrassment, corruption and bs. They say that was the main purpose of clinton’s wars in the balkans– to take media attention away from his sexual affairs. Good ol’ trumper aint above that. MSM is basically owned by the arms producing industry anyways. Watch their attentions magically shift away from the trump/russia conspiracy. They’ve wanted this war the whole time.

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