The destroyed Scientific Research Centre is seen in Damascus, Syria April 14, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
The destroyed Scientific Research Centre in Damascus. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Trump declares strikes a success in Syria



President Donald Trump declared mission accomplished last night after airstrikes destroyed three Syrian chemical weapons sites in the most significant US-led military operation against the regime of Bashar Al Assad of the seven-year civil war.

More than 100 missiles were fired at the targets near Damascus and Homs early Saturday in a ‘limited and targeted’ operation aimed at sending a potent message to the Assad regime but stopping short of securing regime change, according to western military and political leaders.

“A perfectly executed strike last night,” said Mr Trump in a Tweet following the joint operation by US, British and French forces. “Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!”

Syria and its allies condemned the attack and Russia called a meeting of the UN Security Council last night to discuss what it described as a blatant disregard for international law. Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, urged restraint to avoid escalation in the region.

The Pentagon described the attack as ‘precise, overwhelming and effective’ with two thirds of the missiles targeting and destroying the key research centre of the Syrian chemical weapons programme at Barzah near Damascus.

Syrian state TV broadcast images of the destruction at the site, including piles of rubble and a burnt vehicle. The Syrian military said it destroyed laboratories and an educational centre.

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Two other chemical weapons facilities near Homs were targeted, the Pentagon said. US officials said that none of the 105 missiles had been intercepted by Syrian air defences.

The Pentagon said it was unaware of civilian casualties but said the attack had sparked a 2,000 per cent increase in Russian trolling activity.

The scale of the strikes was less than expected in some quarters with Mr Assad saying the attacks would only make Syria more determined to continue its operations. In a calculated show of defiance, the presidency posted a video showing Mr Assad apparently turning up for work following the attacks.

Hundreds of pro-Assad supporters gathered in a Damascus square immediately after the attack to celebrate what they claimed was the successful shooting down of US missiles. Russia’s defence ministry claimed that 71 of the missiles were shot down, a claim denied by the US authorities.

"We are not scared of America's missiles. We humiliated their missiles," said Mahmoud Ibrahim, waving a Syrian flag and hanging out of a car window.

Russia, Iran and China all condemned the attacks. There was a mixed reaction from the Arab world to the US-led operation first mooted by Mr Trump a week ago following a suspected chemical weapons attack that left 75 people dead in the rebel-held town of Douma last weekend.

Russia’s defence ministry claimed that the strikes were designed to disrupt an investigation by a team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) which was due to start work on Saturday in Douma. The inspectors said they would go ahead with their investigation despite the strikes.

Theresa May, the UK prime minister, faced questions over the legality of the operation and was expected to face a political backlash on Monday she faced MPs after ordering British aircraft to attack without the backing of parliament.

But European allies lined up to support the ‘limited’ operation as it emerged that the US had warned Moscow about the airstrikes in advance to avoid Russian casualties and avoid a broader conflict between the major powers.

The Pentagon on Saturday that the strikes had set back the Syrian chemical weapons programme back years, even as Mr Trump kept the option open for further attacks on the regime until it stopped its use of prohibited agents.

The US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Mr Trump had told her that "the United States is locked and loaded" to strike again if Mr Al Assad used chemical weapons again.

Relaying a message from Mr Trump at an emergency Security Council meeting on Syria, Ms Haley said: "When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line."

Mr Trump's position appeared at odds with Defence Secretary James Mattis who described the attack as a “one-time shot” amid reported differences between the two men in previous days over the extent of the response against Syria.

Mrs May said that the strikes delivered a broader message to Russia about the illegal use of chemical weapons following the poisoning of a former spy in the UK, an attack blamed on Russia. She called for a renewed diplomatic effort to strengthen the international laws against the use of such weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the attacks in the “most serious way". Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called the airstrikes a "military crime”, according to Iran's state-run IRNA news agency.

Know before you go
  • Jebel Akhdar is a two-hour drive from Muscat airport or a six-hour drive from Dubai. It’s impossible to visit by car unless you have a 4x4. Phone ahead to the hotel to arrange a transfer.
  • If you’re driving, make sure your insurance covers Oman.
  • By air: Budget airlines Air Arabia, Flydubai and SalamAir offer direct routes to Muscat from the UAE.
  • Tourists from the Emirates (UAE nationals not included) must apply for an Omani visa online before arrival at evisa.rop.gov.om. The process typically takes several days.
  • Flash floods are probable due to the terrain and a lack of drainage. Always check the weather before venturing into any canyons or other remote areas and identify a plan of escape that includes high ground, shelter and parking where your car won’t be overtaken by sudden downpours.

 

MATCH INFO

Real Madrid 2

Vinicius Junior (71') Mariano (90+2')

Barcelona 0

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

Results

2.15pm: Handicap Dh80,000 1,950m

Winner: Hello, Tadhg O’Shea (jockey), Ali Rashid Al Raihi (trainer).

2.45pm: Handicap Dh90,000 1,800m

Winner: Right Flank, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson.

3.15pm: Handicap Dh115,000 1,000m

Winner: Leading Spirit, Richard Mullen, Satish Seemar.

3.45pm: Jebel Ali Mile Group 3 Dh575,000 1,600m

Winner: Chiefdom, Royston Ffrench, Salem bin Ghadayer.

4.15pm: Handicap Dh105,000 1,400m

Winner: Ode To Autumn, Patrick Cosgrave, Satish Seemar.

4.45pm: Shadwell Farm Conditions Dh125,000 1,200m

Winner: Last Surprise, James Doyle, Simon Crisford.

5.15pm: Handicap Dh85,000 1,200m

Winner: Daltrey, Sandro Paiva, Ali Rashid Al Raihi.

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

ABU DHABI ORDER OF PLAY

Starting at 10am:

Daria Kasatkina v Qiang Wang

Veronika Kudermetova v Annet Kontaveit (10)

Maria Sakkari (9) v Anastasia Potapova

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Ons Jabeur (15)

Donna Vekic (16) v Bernarda Pera 

Ekaterina Alexandrova v Zarina Diyas

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

THE BIO: Martin Van Almsick

Hometown: Cologne, Germany

Family: Wife Hanan Ahmed and their three children, Marrah (23), Tibijan (19), Amon (13)

Favourite dessert: Umm Ali with dark camel milk chocolate flakes

Favourite hobby: Football

Breakfast routine: a tall glass of camel milk

Roger Federer's 2018 record

Australian Open Champion

Rotterdam Champion

Indian Wells Runner-up

Miami Second round

Stuttgart Champion

Halle Runner-up

Wimbledon Quarter-finals

Cincinnati Runner-up

US Open Fourth round

Shanghai Semi-finals

Basel Champion

Paris Masters Semi-finals

 

 

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

DUBAI BLING: EPISODE 1

Creator: Netflix

Stars: Kris Fade, Ebraheem Al Samadi, Zeina Khoury

Rating: 2/5

Bridgerton season three - part one

Directors: Various

Starring: Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton, Jonathan Bailey

Rating: 3/5


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