U.S. and European allies target Syrian chemical weapons production with airstrike

President Donald Trump announced early Saturday that the United States and European allies have launched successful missile strikes on Syrian chemical weapon storage and research facilities.

U.S., French and British forces launched 105 missiles at three chemical weapons targets Friday night in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack carried out by the Assad regime near Damascus last week.

The chemical attack has not been confirmed and Syrian news media has denied the use of chemical weapons. However, according to a World Health Organization report, estimated 500 patients present symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals.

“More than 70 people sheltering in basements have reportedly died, with 43 of those deaths related to symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals,” according to the report.

The bombing was the largest intervention against the Assad regime by western countries.

“Together, we have sent a clear message to Assad, and his murderous lieutenants, that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable,” United States Defense Secretary James Mattis said.

The strike has been deemed a “mission accomplished” my many U.S. officials. Britain, Germany, France, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Italy, Poland, the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Canada have all joined in support of the strikes against Syria. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said in a statement: “President Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.”

Some nations have condemned the attack– including Russia, Iran and Bolivia. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, called the U.S. strikes “an act of aggression against a sovereign state delivered in violation of international law under a far-fetched pretext.” On Saturday, Russia also called the United Nations Security Council to convene an emergency meeting.

The UN Security Council has rejected Russia’s request to condemn the airstrike in Syria after Russia failed to get the other 14 Council members to adopt the resolution.

Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. called the attack, “precise, overwhelming and effective.” However, some are calling into question the effectiveness of the strike. Daniel L. Byman, senior fellow at Brooking’s Center for Middle East Policy, said, “the military impact of a missile strike on one facility is limited.”

A similar airstrike was carried out last year in Syria. U.S. military targeted a Syrian military base for weapons delivery after a chemical attack agains civilians.

“Clearly, the Assad regime did not get the message last year,” Mattis said.