The United States has launched a massive airstrike targeting the Shayrat air base in an assault that, according to the Pentagon, was carried out “in retaliation” for President Bashar al-Assad ostensibly ordering a chemical attack against civilians. Russian Senator Igor Morozov compared the operation to America’s prior military interventions.
“The attack on the air base resembles the bombing of Yugoslavia, the military intervention in Iraq, the destruction of Libya and other instances when the United States violated international law,” Morozov, a senior member of the upper house of the Russian parliament, told Sputnik. “It has become evident that the chemical attack in Idlib was America’s provocation to justify the airstrike on the base.”
On Tuesday, the United States and its allies accused President Bashar al-Assad of using toxic compounds in an attack that claimed nearly 80 lives and left 200 injured on the outskirts of Khan Shaykhun, a town in the rebel-held province of Idlib. The Russian Defense Ministry later explained that the Syrian Arab Air Force carried out a mission in the area, striking a large militant ammunition depot which stored chemical weapons as well as military hardware.
Although no evidence that Assad ordered the use of toxic agents against civilians has been provided, President Donald Trump ordered the US Department of Defense to carry out a retaliatory mission against Damascus, saying that it was a response to “a horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent.”
“It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” he said. “There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council.”
The Pentagon’s attack took place at approximately 4:40 a.m. Syrian time. The United States launched 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) from USS Porter and USS Ross, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers deployed to the eastern Mediterranean, hitting Shayrat, a Syrian Air Force base located in Homs. Pentagon Spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis described the mission as “a proportional response to Assad’s heinous act.”
Alexei Pushkov, a senior member of the upper house of the Russian parliament, pointed out that all recent US presidents were engaged in an armed conflict in the Middle East and Trump appears to fall into a pattern.
“In the 21st century, each US president waged his own war in the Middle East, if not two. If Trump intervenes in Syria, he will join the ranks of Bush and Obama,” he tweeted.
Washington’s military operation in Syria came hours after US leadership made a U-turn on regime change in the war-torn Arab country.
Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Russian upper house of parliament, suggested that the Pentagon and the US intelligence community force Donald Trump to launch an attack against Damascus because they were not happy with the White House backing away from the “Assad must go” policy.
“In what is a strange coincidence, America’s increasingly hardline approach to Assad took place mere days after the US had adopted a less rigid stance. You get an impression that neither the Pentagon, nor the US intelligence agencies agreed to this shift and drove Trump into a corner by providing ‘irrefutable evidence,'” he wrote on Facebook.
Deputy Chairman of the Russian lower house of parliament’s defense committee Yury Shvytkin asserted that Washington could have decided to act because it is wary of Moscow and Damascus’ victories in Syria.
“These events indicate that the United States is concerned that the successes of the coalition led by Russia and Syria are evident. I think that [the attack] could also be viewed as an attempt to divide Syria in half,” he told Sputnik.