U.S., allies responsible for regional fallout of Syria raids - Iran

 Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday condemned the U.S.-led attacks on Syria and said Washington and its allies would bear responsibility for the consequences in the region and beyond, state media said.
Syrians wave Russian, Syrian and Iranian flags during a protest against U.S.-led air strikes in Damascus,Syria April 14,2018.REUTERS/ Omar Sanadiki
“Undoubtedly, the United States and its allies, which took military action against Syria despite the absence of any proven evidence ... will assume the responsibility for the regional and trans-regional consequences of this adventurism,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state media.
“Iran is opposed to the use of chemical weapons on the basis of religious, legal and ethical standards, while at the same time it ... strongly condemns (using this) as an excuse to commit aggression against a sovereign state,” it added.
Iran has been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s most supportive ally against insurgents throughout the conflict. Iran-backed militias first helped his army stem rebel advances and, following Russia’s entry into the war in 2015, turn the tide decisively in Assad’s favour.
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Analyst Hossein Sheikholeslam, a former Iranian ambassador to Damascus, told state television the attacks would help unite Syrians French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday that he had ordered a military intervention in Syria alongside the United States and Britain in an attack on the chemical weapons arsenal of the country’s regime.
French President Emmanuel Macron arrives at an elementary school to attend a one-hour interview with French news channel TF1, in Berd'huis, France, April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier that he had ordered precision strikes targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities after a poison gas attack that killed at least 60 people last week.
Macron said the attack had been limited so far to Syria’s chemical weapons facilities.
The French presidency issued a video on Twitter showing what it said were Rafale war planes taking off as part of the intervention.
“We cannot tolerate the recurring use of chemical weapons, which is an immediate danger for the Syrian people and our collective security,” a statement from the Elysee presidential office said.
“On April 7, dozens of men, women and children were massacred in Douma, with the use of a chemical weapon in a total violation of international rules (...) The red line established by France in May 2017 was crossed,” Macron said.
He added that the facts and the responsibility of the Syrian regime were beyond doubt.
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British Prime Minister Theresa May also said she had authorised British forces to conduct strikes against Syria.
Macron, who tweeted a picture of himself in a meeting room with military and diplomatic advisers, said a debate about France’s military involvement would take place in parliament.
The French air force has been active in Syria since 2015 to fight Islamic State but it was the first time it carried out an attack against the Syrian regime.behind the government.
“These attacks will stabilise the Syrian government... and unite the different tribes in Syria as Syrians become aware of their honour and come to the defence of the independence, territorial integrity and the government of their country,” Sheikholeslam said.
US President Donald Trump has approved military strikes in Syria in retaliation for the alleged chemical attack by the Assad government in Douma, near Damascus, last week. The UK and France joined the operation.
"A short time ago, I ordered the United States Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad," Trump said in a televised address from the White House. He added that a combined military operation by the US, the UK and France is already underway in Syria.
The US-led intervention in Syria comes just hours before the UN’s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) experts were scheduled to visit the Damascus suburb of Douma on Saturday to determine whether chemical weapons had been used there last week.
Shortly after Trump's announcement, a statement from UK Prime Minister Theresa May said she had authorized British forces to conduct "coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian regime's chemical weapons capability."
French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that he ordered French forces to carry out a military action against Syria in coalition with the US and the UK. “The facts and the responsibility of the Syrian regime are beyond doubt,” he said in a statement issued by his office, accusing Damascus of crossing “a red line” set by France in May of last year.
Macron said that France’s response was “limited” and solely aimed at “the capabilities of the Syrian regime for the production and use of chemical weapons.”
The combined decision by the US and its allies to strike Syria comes just after Russian defense ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov presented evidence claiming that last Saturday's alleged chemical attack in Douma was orchestrated. The general also noted that London was “directly involved in the provocation.”According to Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, the US did not notify Russian forces in Syria ahead of the strikes. "We did not do any coordination with the Russians on the strikes, nor did we pre-notify them." The Pentagon said the strikes were a "one time shot" to send a strong message to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The UK defense ministry stated that the strike was executed by four Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s, that launched Storm Shadow missiles at what the UK military claims was a former missile base, some 15 miles west of Homs. The ministry claimed that the Syrian government keeps a stockpile of chemical weapons precursors at the site, thus violating the Chemical Weapons Convention, of which it is a party.
Trump had a special message for Russia and Iran, who he said were “most responsible for supporting, equipping and financing” the Syrian government.
“What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murderer of innocent men, women and children? The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed, in the long run, by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants, and murderous dictators,” Trump said.
He also blamed “Russia’s failure” to keep the 2013 promise that Syria would get rid of its chemical weapons, which was negotiated in good faith with the US. Syria’s compliance with the promise was certified by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in 2014. The only remaining chemical weapons caches in Syria were in territories held by the Western-backed militants, such as Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam), who controlled Douma until their surrender on Monday.
Weeks ago, Russia warned that the militants in the east Ghouta enclave might stage a chemical weapons attack to win over Western public opinion. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the reports of Saturday’s chemical attack “fake news,”while the Russian military investigating the area found no traces of chlorine or nerve agents, any eyewitnesses who could confirm their use or anyone who might have been affected.
An OPCW investigative mission was supposed to arrive in Douma on Saturday. It is unclear what will happen to the probe, in light of the US, UK and French bombing.