'Complete nonsense': How Russian media covered the air strikes in Syria

'Complete nonsense': How Russian media covered the air strikes in Syria

Trump announced from the White House on Friday night that the USA, in coordination with France and the United Kingdom, had launched strikes on Syria following a week of threats of retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians by the Assad regime.

The Pentagon said there had been chemical weapons agents at one of the targets, and that the strikes had significantly crippled Syria's ability to produce such weapons. Last year's chemical weapons attack killed dozens civilians, as did this one.

Syrian armed forces said in a statement, however, that the country's defense systems "intercepted most of the missiles, but some hit targets including the Research Center in Barzeh", a suburb of Damascus.

The West has accused Syria of failing to live up to its commitment to scrap its chemical weapons programme under a deal reached between the United States and Russian Federation.

France targeted a nearby storage bunker where chemical and biological weapons were kept, hitting it with seven cruise missiles.

New satellite images from DigitalGlobe appear to show there was extensive damage to two separate facilities in Homs.

According to the Pentagon, the allied weaponry included 19 new "Extended-Range" stealthy Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Attack Munitions launched by two B-1B bombers based out of Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and six Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the Virginia-class USS John Warner submarine.

Also, Russia's ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin said Wednesday that his country would respond to any US missiles fired at Syria by shooting them down and targeting their launch sites.

"We believe that by hitting Barzeh in particular we've attacked the heart of the Syrian chemicals weapon programme", Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie said at the Pentagon.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he ordered the attacks after the "massacre" of innocent people which had crossed "a red line". But as CNN has reported, "when Obama considered launching airstrikes in Syria against 2013, he made a decision to go to Congress before striking, and the resistance he faced there convinced the president not to hit Assad". The NATO alliance gave its full backing; NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels that the attack was about ensuring that chemical weapons can not be used with impunity.

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"The question is going to be going forward, how do we define chemical weapons?"

Indeed, Trump's "Mission Accomplished" tweet was an awkward - or taunting - reminder of the giant banner that famously served as a backdrop when President George W. Bush, wearing an aviator's flight suit, stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier six weeks after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and declared that major combat operations had ended.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has denounced the missile strikes by the US, France and the United Kingdom as an "act of aggression" that would exacerbate the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.

The attack was a response to a reported chemical attack that affected hundreds of women and children in the town of Douma, in the Syrian province eastern Ghouta, last week.

Nebenzia also said recent inspections by the UN's Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found no "traces of activity that would contravene the chemical weapons convention" at scientific research facilities targeted in the strikes.

But after the Syrian army surrendered its chemical arsenal, the Western countries kept accusing the government forces of using chemical weapons, despite the Syrian government's repeated denials that it has never used such weapons. "These are not the actions of a man, they are crimes of a monster", Mr Trump said.

"A perfectly executed strike last night".

Earlier Saturday, Pence held off from expressing a final judgment about whether sarin gas was deployed in the chemical weapons attack.

Syrian air defenses responded to the joint strikes by the United States, France and Britain. "But it is equally important for us to be aware of the distraction tactics that some of the actors in the world are using today and to not allow those tactics to work".

"A pre-designed scenario is being implemented", Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said on Twitter.

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