British FM cancels trip to Moscow after U.S. strikes on Syria

"The chemical attack purportedly was authorized by Syrian President Bashar Assad and targeted the town because it is a stronghold for rebel forces trying to topple his regime in the country's 6-year-long civil war", Fox News writes.

Shayrat Airfield in Homs, Syria is seen in this DigitalGlobe satellite image released by the U.S. Defense Department on April 6, 2017 after announcing U.S. forces conducted a cruise missile strike against the Syrian Air Force airfield.

"The air base is almost nearly destroyed, including aircraft and air defence bases", said Rami Abdurrahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights, which operates a network of activists on the ground in Syria.

The White House described the attack as a "warning shot" that was "necessary and appropriate" following Mr al-Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians in rebel-held town Idlib earlier this week.

One reason the US chose limited strikes against Assad is that a more sustained campaign would risk the total collapse of the regime.

How did the US carry out the strike? "The place of the fall of the other missiles is unknown", Konashenkov said, according to Russia's TASS news agency.

The kingdom is among the most vehement opponents of Assad and supports Sunni rebel groups fighting to oust him. At a briefing in Washington, White House press secretary Sean Spicer essentially blamed the Obama administration, saying: "These heinous acts are a outcome of the past administration's weakness and irresolution".

He said Trump must come to Congress for an authorization to use military force, and Congress must publicly debate it. President Barack Obama sought such authorization in 2013, and the Republican-led Congress rejected it. Speaking to reporters at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Spicer said the USA missile attack was "very decisive, justified and proportional".

Al-Assad thanked Kim for recognising the Syrian struggle to "meet such challenges as sinister actions of the world's terrorists and encouraged Syria to successfully weather the crisis without fail", KCNA said.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, meanwhile, canceled his planned Monday visit to Moscow, citing developments in Syria.

Johnson said: "My priority is now to continue contact with the United States and others in the run-up to the G7 meeting on 10-11 April - to build coordinated global support for a ceasefire on the ground and an intensified political process". Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said America's show of force offered "a vitally important message" that the world community would not abide the use of chemical weapons.

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The Saudi Press Agency on Saturday said that Saudi King Salman called President Trump on Friday to express his support for the US attack, which he called a "courageous decision".

"We're hopeful that Russian Federation will choose to play a constructive role in supporting ceasefires through their own Astana talks, but also, ultimately, through Geneva", Tillerson said. "It is in our vital national security interest to prevent the spread and use of chemical weapons".

"Moscow is ready to cooperate with Washington even at the toughest moment of bilateral relations", she said.

The chemical attack prompted the launch almost 60 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian air base early Friday, which killed nine people and marked the first time Washington has directly targeted Syrian government forces since the war began in 2011.

  • Larry Hoffman