The United States has determined 22 critical points across Syria to strike in response to the Assad regime’s latest use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians. Among those points are strategic areas densely populated by Shiite militias. Russian soldiers are deployed at two military bases in the Homs and Tartus regions which are also among the targets.
The U.S. has “reached the moment when the world must see justice done,” U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Monday. She added: "We must not overlook Russia and Iran’s roles in enabling the Assad regime’s murderous destruction.”
The Assad regime on Saturday unleashed a chemical attack on the last remaining opposition-held stronghold of Douma near Damascus, which has been besieged for years. At least 78 civilians, including women and children, were massacred in the aftermath.
U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to respond to the attack saying, “It will be met, and it will be met forcefully,” he said Monday evening.
'UN aside, US will respond to Assad chemical attack'
The U.S. is "determined" to respond to the Assad regime’s latest use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians, regardless of whether the UN Security Council acts or not, a top American diplomat said Monday."We are beyond appeals to conscience. We have reached the moment when the world must see justice done," Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the UN, told an emergency Security Council briefing on Saturday’s attack."History will record this as the moment when the Security Council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria," she said."Either way, the United States will respond."The meeting followed U.S. President Donald Trump's statement that the decision on a U.S. response would come within the next day or two, saying: "This is about humanity and it can’t be allowed to happen,”The meeting was called by the U.S. and eight other members of the Council to hold the Assad regime accountable and to demand an investigation and access to victims.-'Only a monster'“Only a monster targets civilians and then ensures that there are no ambulances to transfer the wounded. No hospitals to save their lives. No doctors or medicine to ease their pain," Haley continued."I could hold up pictures of all of this killing and suffering for the council to see, but what would be the point? The monster who was responsible for these attacks has no conscience, not even to even be shocked by pictures of dead children.”Haley also slammed the Security Council’s failure to counter Syria normalizing the use of chemical weapons, saying: "The great evil of chemical weapons use that once unified the world in opposition is on the verge of becoming the new normal."Pointing the finger at Moscow for supporting Assad, Haley said: "The Russian regime, whose hands are also covered in the blood of Syrian children, cannot be shamed by pictures of its victims,"She added: "We must not overlook Russia and Iran’s roles in enabling the Assad regime’s murderous destruction.”- ‘Syria war threatens international security’During the meeting, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura also said recent developments show more than ever before the dangers that the secretary-general has warned of before."For the first time I have reached a point in which I am expressing concern for international security, not only regional or national or Syrian security," he said.He argued the Syria conflict threatens international security due to conflicts of interest of regional and global powers which could cause unimaginable destructive consequences.-'Serious consequences'After facing severe criticism of Russia from fellow Security Council members, Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia slammed the U.S. and other members for “fishing in the murky waters” of the Middle East, causing further chaos there.“Everywhere you go, everything you touch, you leave behind only chaos. You try to fish in those murky waters, but the only thing you catch is mutants,” Nebenzia said, referring to the U.S.Threatening Washington, he added that there would be "serious consequences" if military action is launched in Syria.British Ambassador Karen Pierce also told the meeting that the U.K. initially wants to see an investigation of the attack by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).Assad regime forces struck targets in Eastern Ghouta's Douma district on Saturday midnight, using a toxic gas which left at least 78 civilians dead, according to Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets.The Damascus suburb has been under siege for the last five years, and humanitarian access to the area, which is home to 400,000 people, has been completely cut off.Over the past eight months, Assad regime forces have intensified their siege, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district and leaving thousands in need of treatment.Putin and Merkel discuss Syria, Ukraine, energy by phoneUK PM May: Backers of Syrian government must be held to accountErdoğan, Putin discuss need to halt civilian deaths in Syria's eastern GhoutaTurkey's volunteer doctors treat 2,500 Syrians
France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel will coordinate the bombardment. The striking of military bases of the Syrian regime will be realized by land, sea and air missiles. Syrian International Relations Specialist Zakariye Molahafci says the U.S. has prepared a detailed target map and is ready to strike over 20 military points across Syria in the upcoming days.
Airports also to be targeted
Drawing attention to the mobility of Daesh along the Deir ez-Zor-Al Bukemal line, Molahafci claimed that strategic points – mainly military airports – would be bombed by France, the UK and Israel as well as the U.S.
Molahafci said that military bases in Homs, Damascus, Tartus, Hama, Hasakah, Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa were among the targets.
Pentagon offers Trump military options over Syria
The Pentagon is offering President Donald Trump a series of military options to respond to the Assad regime’s latest use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians, officials said Monday."Our role is to provide the president with the options. In light of this horrific incident, that is where we're looking at potential military options and providing them to the president," Col. Patrick Ryder, spokesman for the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told Anadolu Agency.Describing the images of civilians injured by chemical weapons as "horrific," Ryder said the military option is definitely something that the U.S. is looking at and that Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Francis Dunford already met with Trump in this regard.He declined to give more details about the options, saying that had to wait until the president makes an announcement.The Pentagon's comments came as Trump prepared to convene with his top military brass Monday night for a working dinner focused on Washington's response to a chemical attack in which dozens of people were killed Saturday night outside of Damascus.Assad regime forces struck targets in Eastern Ghouta's Douma district on Saturday midnight, using a toxic gas which left at least 78 civilians dead, according to Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets.The Damascus suburb has been under siege for the last five years, and humanitarian access to the area, which is home to 400,000 people, has been completely cut off.In the past eight months, Assad regime forces have intensified their siege, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district and leaving thousands in need of treatment.
Ghouta is a guise
Molahafci claimed that the U.S. will also target regions where the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terror group experiences issues with Assad’s forces and Iranian militias, adding that Washington did not care for the war crimes committed by Assad and his backers.
“The eradication of the regime’s air defense systems would shift the balances,” said Molahafci, adding that such an operation would deal a great blow to Assad’s forces.
Noting that Russia increased its alert level at the Hmeymim base as well as other bases in case of such an operation, Molahafci said: “Trump's new cadre was designed with the plan of executing this scenario.”
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Muslim scholars group slams chemical attack in Syria
The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) on Monday condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria.Assad regime forces struck targets in the Damascus suburb’s Douma district on Saturday midnight using a poisonous gas, which left at least 78 civilians dead, according to the White Helmets, a local civil defense agency.According to a statement issued by the IUMS, the organization condemned the "terrible crimes" asking for international punishment of the "cruel regime".The statement said that the Assad regime is "indifferent in terms of bloodshed and respect for humanity".IUMS Secretary General Ali al-Qaradaghi said in the statement that the silence of the international community is "an incentive for the oppressors" to continue to commit crimes against the Syrian people and civilians with banned weapons.Al-Qaradaghi called on the international community for an "urgent stance" against the "unacceptable violations".On Feb. 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401, which called for a month-long ceasefire in Syria -- especially in Eastern Ghouta -- to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.Despite the resolution, the Assad regime last month launched a major ground offensive -- backed by Russia -- aimed at capturing Eastern Ghouta’s last opposition strongholds.Home to some 400,000 people, the district has remained the target of a crippling regime siege for the last five years that has rendered the delivery of humanitarian supplies almost impossible.Last month, a UN commission of inquiry released a report accusing the regime of committing war crimes in Eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians.
Trump to make decision on Syria within 2 days
The U.S. will decide on its response to a suspected chemical attack in Syria within the next day or two, President Donald Trump said Monday.Trump later said his decision will "probably" be made today."This is about humanity and it can’t be allowed to happen,” Trump said at the White House. "If it’s the Russians, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out.”The comments came as Trump prepared to convene with his top military brass Monday night for a working dinner focused on Washington's response to a reported chemical attack in which dozens of people were killed Saturday night outside of Damascus.Prior to the start of the meeting, Trump told reporters the U.S. is "getting some very good clarity" on who carried out the attack, saying the public would know "pretty soon" about U.S. military retaliation."Probably after the fact," he said.The White Helmets, a local civil defense agency, blamed the Syrian regime for the attack in Eastern Ghouta's Douma, which, it said, killed 78 civilians and injured hundreds of other victims.The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed its fact-finding mission is investigating "to establish whether chemical weapons were used".-'Very tough'The U.S. has long maintained Russia ultimately bears responsibility for any chemical attacks carried out by the regime because Moscow is Bashar al-Assad's principal international backer.Asked if Russian President Vladimir Putin bears responsibility for this weekend's suspected chemical attack, Trump said Putin "may" be held responsible."If he does it’s going to be very tough, very tough," Trump said. "Everybody’s gonna pay a price. He will, everybody will."Trump insisted military action is not off the table one day after Russia's U.S. Embassy warned it "may trigger the gravest consequences".Earlier Monday, Senator Lindsey Graham urged Trump to take action against the Syrian air force, saying Assad "is a legitimate war criminal in the eyes of the international community"."We should make [Assad] pay a heavy price by destroying his air capability," Graham told Fox News.The White House pushed back on suggestions Trump is to blame for the deadly Douma attack after he signaled that the U.S. would pull out its forces from Syria."It is outrageous to say that the president of the United States greenlit something as atrocious as the actions that have taken place,” spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.In a terse statement, senior Senator John McCain laid the blame for the alleged chemical attack on Trump, saying Assad, Russia, and Iran "heard him" when Trump voiced his intent to leave Syria "very soon".Reiterating Trump's comments over the weekend, the White House spokeswoman insisted "there will be a price to pay" for the Douma attack.Russian FM: Chemical attack in Syria's E. Ghouta part of anti-Russia campaignErdoğan, Putin discuss need to halt civilian deaths in Syria's eastern GhoutaVideo: Assad's merciless chemical massacre in Eastern GhoutaVideo: Poison gas attack in Syria