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As it happened: US, UK and France strike Syria

Trump: US launched strikes on Syria
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What you need to know

Strikes in Syria: The US, UK and France launched coordinated air strikes in Syria, hitting targets associated with the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program.

How we got here: The US and its allies blame Syria for an apparent chemical attack on the city of Douma just over a week ago. US President Trump and UK Prime Minister May said such action could not go unchallenged.

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Head here for the latest developments on this story.

Pentagon: “2,000%" increase in Russian trolls in the last 24-hours

Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White ended a press briefing on Saturday by highlighting that the US had seen a “2,000%” increase in Russian trolls in the last 24-hours. White had been providing an update of the latest developments from overnight airstrikes on Syrian targets by US, UK and French forces.

Pentagon calls on Russia to ensure Assad never uses chemical weapons again

During a briefing on Saturday morning, Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White called on Russia to make sure the Syrian regime never employ the use of chemical weapons again.

“We call upon Russia to honor its commitment to ensure the Assad regime dismantles its chemical weapons program and never uses chemical weapons again.”

Why Barzah research center was targeted 

The Pentagon has assessed that nerve agents were present at the Barzah research center that was targeted by the US and allies overnight.

Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff, said: “We assessed that there were probably some chemical or nerve agents in that target. However we believe by the way we attacked it, the attack profile that we used” help minimized any concern of how the chemical would be dispersed in the strike.

105 missiles were launched in strikes against Syria

In a briefing on Saturday morning, the Pentagon provided the following breakdown of the military weapons used to strike Syrian targets overnight.

From the Red Sea:

USS Monterey (Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser) - 30 Tomahawk missiles

USS Laboon (Arleigh Burke-class destroyer) - 7 Tomahawk missiles

From the North Arabian Gulf:

USS Higgins (Arleigh Burke-class destroyer) - 23 Tomahawk missiles

From the eastern Mediterranean:

USS John Warner (Virginia class submarine) - 6 Tomahawk missiles

A French frigate ship (could not understand name) - 3 missiles (naval version of SCALP missiles)

From the air:

2 B-1 Lancer bombers - 19 joint air to surface standoff missiles

British flew a combination of Tornado and Typhoon jets - 8 storm shadow missiles

French flew a combination of Rafales and Mirages - 9 SCALP missiles

A US Defense Department photo of the missile strikes against Syria conducted on April 14. The guided missile cruiser USS Monterey fired a Tomahawk missile in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. 

Pentagon: Clear message to Syrian regime

Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff, said that the strikes on Syria overnight by US and allies were “a powerful show of allied unity.”

“We deployed 105 weapons against three targets that will significantly impact the Syrian regimes ability to develop, deploy and use chemical weapons in the future. It’s been said before but I want to emphasize again that by compassion, this strike was double the size of the last strike in April 2017.”

Pentagon: Strikes will set back Syria's chemical weapons "for years"

Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff, said that the coordinated strikes which struck targets in Syria overnight will set the country’s chemical weapons capability back “for years.”

He added that “none of our aircraft or missiles in this operation were successfully engaged” by Syrian regime.

Map of US-led airstrikes in Syria provided by the US Department of Defense.

Now: Pentagon briefing on Syrian strike underway

Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White has taken the podium for a briefing on the strikes executed by the US and allies overnight.

White told reporters the strikes “successfully hit every target” and that the allies “took every measure and caution” to only hit the intended targets.

UK opposition leader says Syria strikes have no legal basis

UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Saturday that British strikes against Syria as part of a coalition alongside France and the United States have no legal basis.

“You could only do it under the basis of self-defense – if there was a direct threat to us, and there wasn’t,” Corbyn told reporters.

The leader of UK’s Labour party called for British Prime Minister Theresa May to publish a full legal basis and justification for the airstrikes.

He also criticized the British PM for appearing to take cues from her American counterpart, US President Donald Trump, before questioning why May had not waited for approval by the UK Parliament. 

“Parliament should be consulted, parliament should be allowed to take a view on this, but instead the strikes were launched last night,” said Corbyn. “She could have come to Parliament on Monday to discuss the whole situation and instead they have launched the strikes.”

The British Prime Minister is not obliged to put the matter to a vote in Parliament.

OPCW: Fact-finding mission to Syria will go ahead

The fact-finding mission team of the the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will continue its deployment to Syria to establish facts around the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma last weekend, the chemical weapons watchdog said in a statement on Saturday. 

“The political solution” is the only way out of the Syrian crisis, Jordan Government says

Jordan has emphasized that diplomacy is the only way “to ensure Syria’s stability, territorial integrity and the security of its people” the morning after airstrikes by the US, UK and France pounded Syrian targets, according to a statement released by the spokesman for the Jordanian Government, Mohammad al-Momani on Saturday.

“The political solution preserves the unity of the Syrian people, and brings back security and stability to it,” al-Momani said.

“The continuation of violence will only bring more violence, death, destruction and more displacement that the Syrian people are only being the victims off” al-Momani added.

France declassifies releases report analyzing Douma attack, points blame at Syrian regime 

Days after French leader Emmanuel Macron announced in no uncertain terms that French authorities believed the Syrian regime had used chlorine as a weapon on its own citizens last weekend, the French Foreign Ministry has declassified a national intelligence report into the suspected chemical attack in Douma.

It is the first time French authorities have publicly revealed the information on which they have based its claims.

The report states that experts analyzed symptoms identifiable in the images and videos from the Douma attack before coming to their conclusions. It also says witness testimony was taking into consideration, the Foreign Ministry said, though the report states it did not have access to samples from the ground. 

The report, which the French Foreign Ministry says was based on technical analyses of open source information and French intelligence, states that two new cases of deployment of toxic nerve agents were “spontaneously reported by civil society and local and international media” from late afternoon on April 7. 

“Non-governmental medical organizations active in Ghouta (the Syrian American Medical Society and the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations), whose information is generally reliable, publicly stated that strikes had targeted in particular local medical infrastructure on 6 and 7 April.A massive influx of patients in health centers in Eastern Ghouta (at the very least 100 people) presenting symptoms consistent with exposure to a chemical agent was observed and documented during the early evening. In total, several dozens of people, more than forty according to several sources, are thought to have died from exposure to a chemical substance.”

The report states that no deaths from “mechanical injuries” were visible.

“All of these symptoms are characteristic of a chemical weapons attack, particularly choking agents and organophosphorus agents or hydrocyanic acid. Furthermore, the apparent use of bronchodilators by the medical services observed in videos reinforces the hypothesis of intoxication by choking agents,” the report states.