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tv   BBC News  BBC News  April 14, 2018 5:00am-5:31am BST

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using denied using these chemical weapons and have called the a flagrant violation of international law. russia has warned that there be consequences. welcome to bbc news broadcasters to go for broadcast interview with all around the world. these are our top the united states, france and britain have carried out cruise missile strikes against targets in syria. the purpose of actions to do is to establish a strong deterrent against the establishment, spread and use of chemical weapons. the us military says strikes were conducted against three sites involved in the research, production and use of chemical weapons. the united states has a vital national interest in averting a worsening catastrophe in syria and specifically deterring the use and proliferation of chemical weapons. syrian state television claims that 13 missiles were shot down — but there's been no confirmation of that. welcome to the programme.
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the united states, france and britain have carried out air strikes on three sites in syria in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack last week. multiple explosions have been heard in damascus and the city of homs. in a statement announcing the attacks, president trump said they were precision strikes on targets associated with the syrian government's chemical weapons capabilities. the us defence secretary says these attacks were a "one time shot" and have now been completed. syria says their bases had already been evacuated after being warned of the attack by russia. andrew plant reports. a short time ago i ordered the united states armed forces to launch precision
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strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of syrian dictator bashar al—assad. after days of diplomacy, confirmation from the us president that strikes in syria have begun. these pictures from inside syria a p pa re ntly these pictures from inside syria apparently showing missile defence system is being launched. and here it is from the french president's twitter feed, french warplanes it is from the french president's twitterfeed, french warplanes ready for takeoff, headed to syria. it has been a week since this attack. america saying it has proof the syrian government did use a chemical weapon here, a chlorine attack. reports say 85 people died in including children. the military firepower was already in place. america has the uss donald cook in the mediterranean, armed with cruise missiles. france has the aquitaine. there are us and uk submarines too.
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britain could provide air support. it has tornadoes in cyprus. france has fighter jets based in jordan. russia, syria's strongest ally has anti—missile defence systems in the west of the country. this is not about intervening in a civil war. it is not about regime change. it is about a limited and targeted strike that does not further escalate tensions in the region. and that does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties. russia had urged the us not to attack and said it would shoot down any missiles. the opcw, the international chemical weapons watchdog, has a team in syria right now, due to begin investigating this weekend. but western military strikes have come first, after the uk, america and france pleged that
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syria's use of chemical weapons must not go unpunished. let's go to chris buckler in washington. chris, a very significant night in us foreign policy, especially in the age of president trump? this is a very significant series of strikes. although in its own way it is limited. the president spoke at 9pm washington time, 4am in damascus. and within an hour of him making a speech, within an hour of those missiles first being fired, the strikes themselves were over. they we re strikes themselves were over. they were specific targeted to try and ensure that they did not really cause division could —— civilian casualties, to try and specifically target chemical weapons facilities, those that were being stored in those that were being stored in those that were being stored in those that were being developed. there has been a long conversation
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taking place within the administration and also with the uk and france about exactly how sustained and severe these strikes should be. what is clear to night is that president trump is saying that as far as he is concerned, they will continue to be pressure upon syria, but for the minutes military action is over. you say military action is over, and in a sense that is the targeted strike you mentioned their, right? absolutely. what is worth noting is that president trump did say there would have to be "a sustained response." he did talk about military, economic and diplomatic. so three different things brought together. within the administration when the big that has been talked about is this threat of russian retaliation. and certainly even this evening we are seeing here that there is a statement from the russian ambassador to the us in which he says that there will be consequences as a result of this, and that those are the
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responsibility of washington, paris and london. and certainly relationships between russia and america have not been good for weeks, as a result of diplomatic sanctions, of some expulsions of diplomats that have taken place, a lot of tit—for—tat tipple matic action, and there is concern about how this will leave relationships more generally. —— it will matic. because russia has been —— diplomatic. russia has been standing very firmly behind syria, america the uk and france said they all have evidence the chemical attack took face, but the divisions are very clear. the problems caused by the complex problem and syria are not going to go away. resident assad's regime is going to be an issue that will be addressed in the future, and these strikes that have taken place not going to resolve all these issues. in fact it leaves a more potentially complex problem in terms
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of international relationships between russia and america. of international relationships between russia and americam of international relationships between russia and america. it comes ata time between russia and america. it comes at a time of great flux for president trump's foreign policy team? yeah. it is worth remembering that it team? yeah. it is worth remembering thatitis team? yeah. it is worth remembering that it is only a matter of two weeks ago that resident trump himself was saying that he wanted to get us troops out of syria as quickly as possible. there are about 2000 us troops inside syria. the question now is, do we have a different strategy emerging here? is this just different strategy emerging here? is thisjust a different strategy emerging here? is this just a case of a one—off strike as was mentioned at the pentagon, or is it something more than that? is a more considered in terms of its response and how it will deal with syria? certainly we have new people in terms of foreign policy in the white house, john bolton has taken over as national security adviser, and mike pompeo is said that as secretary of state. certainlyjohn bolton is rather hawkish in his views, and there are people who
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believe that inside the white house there has been an ongoing discussion with president trump really favouring a more aggressive response, a more aggressive series of strikes when it came to syria, and others like the defence secretary, generaljames and others like the defence secretary, general james mattis feeling it should be more limited. at the moment it seems limited but they will be watching syria closely, and that is clear from all these pietersen ice, but they were what aside's regime —— speeches on ice. that they will watch president aside's regime and there will be more action if there is another chemical attack. our middle east correspondent martin patiencejoins us from our middle east correspondent martin patience joins us from beirut. you have been monitoring events from where you are, what is happening in damascus? the latest we have heard, we arejust damascus? the latest we have heard, we are just getting social media and state tv in syria is now showing that civilians have gathered near a square close to a military airport
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on the outskirts of damascus which was apparently attacked by american cruise missiles. i think this gives you some illustration, people are just waking up this morning in the middle east, the syrian government will be assessing the damage, but after the fire and furious at we have seen over the past few days, this does appear from their point of view, although they have not stated publicly, they will see this as a limited strike. they will have two make their assessments, but for now it does appear that the americans have targeted chemical weapons facilities, we know in damascus, we know near homs. but after all those tweets and all the buildup, perhaps there may be a feeling of relief in damascus, that this was not more serious. and you say that is because of the nature of the western
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strikes, that they are targeted and looking at specific sites, to try and minimise civilian calc —— civilian battleaxe civilian casualties? there was some casualties? there was some casualties —— indication they may go after the delivery system of chemical weapons, which might suggest the syrian air force might be targeted. it does not appear to have been the case. what we saw in the days and weeks building up to this event was the syrian military taking the actions. we know that syrian aircraft were moved to a russian air base, that of course would have complicated any american strike and indeed become —— the americans have come out and said they went after targets that busy and we did not have russian personnel inside them. to minimise any danger that potentially these airstrikes, these missile strikes
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could potentially lead to an escalation in the region. of course everybody is still nervous, we will be waiting to see whether or not there is any reaction. but now it appears that damascus is assessing the damage. over the past few years whenever we have talked about the syrian war, we have talked about mass migration and people leaving syria to head into turkey and of course where you are, lebanon, is one of the countries that has received a significant number of syrian refugees. what sort of impact hasn't had on life in beirut? people would be nervous, i think —— think what people have been very nervous about is not american missile strikes, british missile strikes inside syria, what everyone was across the region was feeling, potentially that this could trigger it yet more violence. it is a complex war in syria, and we have talked a lot about russia and
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america, but one of the dynamics that perhaps we don't talk about enough is israel and iran. and israel and iran meet in syria but they also meet here in lebanon, 12 yea rs they also meet here in lebanon, 12 years ago there was a devastating war between these two parties, the iran backed hezbollah and israel. there is a fear that the violence we see in syria could spill across borders. people are nervous but for now this does appear to have been a limited air strike, now this does appear to have been a limited airstrike, and now this does appear to have been a limited air strike, and as i say, damascus is assessing the damage and iam sure damascus is assessing the damage and i am sure we will hear from them very soon. one of the things to point out is that the syrian government, styrian tape tv —— state tv is no tory and —— notoriously full of propaganda and they talk about the number of missiles they have shot down, these things are
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very difficult to verify independently, are they? very difficult, the pendragon has said it had three targets, a uk—based monitoring group are saying that more targets may well have been hit. but we do often hear from syrian state tv if there is an attack, if there is missile strikes, that they shut down most of us that most of the missiles. that may be the case, they may have shut down missiles, they may have shut down missiles, they do have that kind of capability, or certainly the russians do, so we can't rule it out. but clearly the americans and the british have carried out these missile strikes which have had an impact on the ground target, as the americans say, largely these scientific labs or libraries connected with the production of chemical weapons, or in fact the storage of chemical weapons, that is according to military officials. thank you very much martin patience. i'm joined now by dalia dassa kaye.
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she's the director of the centre for middle east public policy at the rand corporation in santa monica, california. thank you forjoining us. was this a response by president trump advocate, too little, or too much? it depends what you are measuring. clearly this was on the limited end of the spectrum, it was a more significant attack than we saw last april, there were more targets, more ammunition, and we saw allies brought into the operation which was welcomed. but i think the real question is, to what end? we still have the same challenge of, this is unlikely to actually affect the course of the war in syria and the killing there. this is quite a limited attack focused explicitly in terms of the targeting and the messaging, on preventing hopefully future use of chemical weapons by the assad regime. why don't you a nswer the assad regime. why don't you answer your question, which is what next? that is very uncertain. i
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think there is a good chance that this may not change much. the mass of syria will still be there the day after. i think we should be careful, there are still a couple of risks that remain, the question of how russia will react, the iranian and israeli theatre could heat up, but most likely, the continued problems in syria, what to do in the eastern pa rt in syria, what to do in the eastern part of the country, how to deal with the territory that is now being taken overfrom with the territory that is now being taken over from isis, with the territory that is now being taken overfrom isis, the issue of the turks and the kurds, all of those complexes use in syria had not in result by the strike. those complexes use in syria had not in result by the strikelj those complexes use in syria had not in result by the strike. i have seen afair bit in result by the strike. i have seen a fair bit of analysis talking about how russia will react to this, but surely russia does not want to come into conflict with the us. can one really imagined they would do anything to provoke the united states, or to escalate this further? —— imagine. states, or to escalate this further?
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-- imagine. we have seen some rhetoric, particularly from the russian ambassador in washington, suggesting there will be consequences. i think the analysis is likely correct. the russians are not interested in escalating anything. they are actually winning. they are backing of assad has worked, along with the iranians. at the end of the day, assad still controls, would russian backing, the largest pa rt controls, would russian backing, the largest part of the country, in the west. —— with. the bottom line is that there is no end to the civil war in syria without a political solution, and for better or worse that'll have to involve russia and iran. ithink that'll have to involve russia and iran. i think a lot of people hope that that will be the impetus for trying to bring some kind of political resolution to this conflict. stay with us. speaking of russia, they have given their first response to the attacks. the russian ambassador to the us issued a statement saying: now, i mean, is that the kind of
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thing you would expect?” now, i mean, is that the kind of thing you would expect? i think we should expect that kind of thing. what i think is more relevant is that james mattis, in what i think is more relevant is thatjames mattis, in his briefing after the attacks, made it very clear, as well as general dunford, that they were very careful not to target any assets which were not syrian military. so there was a strong effort not to attack the russians directly. they used to be deconfliction channels which try to prevent us— russian conflict. so we can expect those tough words, but if the united states doesn't sustain further military action with our allies, i'm not sure the russians
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really wa nt allies, i'm not sure the russians really want to escalate this militarily. there might be other events militarily. there might be other eve nts d own militarily. there might be other events down the road, but for the time being, i think hopefully things will simmer down. looking at president trump's statement, it was almost diplomatic when speaking about russia and iran. saying, you know, do you really want to side with someone who is a mass murderer? why don't you join the side of the civilisations? of course, that kind of talk harks back to the cold war, considering what the un secretary general said. it did sound almost diplomatic, maybe not quite pleading, because you wouldn't expect president trump to plead, but it was not forceful rhetoric. yeah. i think there is an opening there. hopefully that will be an opening to bring the russians into, ultimately, a political settlement. the russians are, as the president rightly pointed out, responsible for the 2013 agreement which committed the russians to reading the entire syrian territory of chemical
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weapons. “— syrian territory of chemical weapons. —— ridding. so the russians are on the hook. if we can give them are on the hook. if we can give them a political opening maybe there will bea a political opening maybe there will be a way forward to try to use the 0ecw and other organisations to try to verify that. i don't think that is going to happen overnight. tensions are high. but its military operations and escalations do not continue, there might be more of a prospect of capitalising on that. thank you very much. earlier i spoke to seth doane, who's the correspondent in damascus for the american network cbs — who told me about the situation there. we are hearing the sound of air strikes, almost rumbling that sounds like thunder in the distance. we were here on this balcony just south—east over damascus, we were listening to president trump speak around four o'clock local time this morning, and while the president was speaking we were hearing those airstrikes. we were also starting to see behind us over the balcony here, we were seeing streaking through the skies, flares lighting up the night sky.
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we were also seeing and hearing some anti—aircraft fire. the syrian state tv was reporting that 13 according to syrian state tv, 13 missiles had been shut out of the sky. if that proves to be true it certainly would be a badge of honour for the syrians who said that their anti—aircraft defences were working on overdrive early this morning. certainly the standing here, we did hear that. looking at syrian state tv, u.s.—led attacks on syria, downing a number of missiles, while you have been there have you had a sense that people there saw this coming or expecting it, or weapon pairing for it? —— were preparing. they were following the news as we all have around the world.
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we have been here for a couple of days here on the streets talking with people in damascus, it is friday was a holy day, a quiet day of rest. there was this real ease throughout the city in the places where we were, it was a beautiful sunny day and people were out. we went to an amusement park and what other photographing her child and her brother on a ride. there was a sense that maybe president trump would not follow through with those threats that he had made to the world on twitter earlier in the week. there was a sense also among the civilian population that the targets as it turns out, according to the pentagon, they were not civilian targets, they were carefully selected military target according to the us pentagon. but there was a sense among the civilian population that they were not in danger. there is also, you can imagine, where it
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—— weariness. this is a population that has entered its eighth year of struggling through war. we were here in damascus just a couple of months ago and we we hearing those same sounds of airstrikes that rumbling, that thunder, it is a very deep sound that almost emanates from the horizon. we were hearing some of that as that bombardment was taking place in ghouta, as bashar al—assad and the forces loyal to him were striking that area. much louder sounds this morning. life is somewhat different, seth, isn't it, in central damascus, to those eastern enclaves like douma, ghouta, etc? it does almost feel like a parallel world here. there is a sense that even though
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this is a country at war, that there is a desire to move on with life as possible, we of course are here with the syrian government, they have allowed us in. we are here on official visas, so we were seeing of course the people who feel as though president bashar al—assad has supported them and has protected them. and we are often in neighbourhoods where the problem there is rebel mortarfire, which has been continuing through the years here and has really been stepped up in this latest assault against eastern whack radu. the rebels as they trapped —— eastern ghouta. the rebels were firing back here in eastern damascus. everyone is seemingly touched by this war, but there is a parallel world here of relative safety, it is surprising sometimes to think that you are in damascus, you are walking on a street on a beautiful day, people are offering you tea and coffee or ice cream, you can't quite believe that
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you are this close to the front line. regardless of whether you are syrian who is a supporter of the government or one of the rebel groups, the last thing you need is more airstrikes? absolutely. i think there is a real fear here of an escalation. we heard from the pentagon briefly, the us government was saying that they were very careful in their targets, they were looking to target the production and development, the capabilities for possible chemical weapons here in syria. we are also hearing reports that many of those targets, airbases and military installations that were hit early this morning have indeed been evacuated. personnel had left, they have the time to leave. but there is a question here, you have so many different countries that are involved in one way or another,
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in this sort of proxy war on the ground here in syria. the strongest allies of syrian president bashar al—assad would be iran and hizbollah, but the strongest of all is russia. but will the strikes escalate things on the ground, and as this war grinds into its eight year there is a fear of that. iamjust i am just getting lots of copy here. this is from the reuters news agency. this is then saying that the missiles have targeted a military prison in homs which were thwarted and diverted from their path, injuring three civilians. this is the state newsagency in syria. something else they are saying,
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senior assad regime officials, saying that the targeted military sites were evacuated days after a warning from russia. that is assad official saying this. they spoke about 30 missiles fired at syria from the us, french and research. a third of which were shut down. —— french and british. clearly, much of this is difficult to verify. also, the russian foreign affairs committee has been giving a statement, saying that the attack on syria by us and allied forces are" an outrageous violation of international law and are groundless attack on a sovereign government". the us defence secretary, james mattis, also spoke to the press about the operation. earlier today president trump ordered the us military to conduct operations in concert with our allies to destroy
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the chemical weapons capabilities of the chemical weapons capabilities of the syrian regime. tonight, france, the syrian regime. tonight, france, the united kingdom and the united states took decisive action to strike syrian chemical weapons infrastructure. really be assad regime did not get the message. —— clearly the assad regime. we have struck hard with our allies, together sending a clear message to a side and his murderous lieutenants that they cannot perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable. —— assad. the 70 nations in the defeat isis coalition remained committed to defeating isis in syria. the strike tonight superliga mate —— demonstrates —— separately demonstrates —— separately demonstrates international resolve to prevent chemical weapons being used on anyone, under any circumstances, in contravention of international law. i want to emphasise these strikes are directed at the syrian regime, and in conducting the strikes we have gone to great lengths to avoid civilian
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and foreign casualties. but it is a time for all civilised nations to urgently unites in ending the syrian civil war by supporting the united nations backed geneva peace process. in accordance with the chemical weapons convention prohibiting the use of such weapons, we urge responsible nations to condemn the assad regime and join us in ourfirm resolve to prevent chemical weapons from being used again. that was james mattis. the french presidency hasissued james mattis. the french presidency has issued a video on twitter showing what it said were their war planes taking off foreign intervention against the chemical weapons facility of the syrian regime. it is not immediately clear whether the planes were taking off from an aircraft carrier or a military base on land. the alice a presidential palace did not specify from where they were taking off and provided no further details. —— elysee president shall palace. the
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video was posted shortly after president macron ordered a military intervention in syria alongside the uk and the us. joining me now is a turkey a nalysts uk and the us. joining me now is a turkey analysts specialising in the middle east, us politics and syria. —— turkey analysts. let's talk about a player in the region, turkey. what do you think about the events of the past few hours? this morning, actually, president erdogan stated that the inaudible is softening. he said these strikes, it looks like from his remarks, he saw these strikes today, a distant possibility. but apparently he was wrong. he has been getting much closer with the russian president putin, as we all have been seeing,
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just on aprilfour last putin, as we all have been seeing, just on april four last week. the russian president and the iranian president wherein acra for a summit. —— were in ankara. so compared to a year ago, last year president erdogan was calling on president trump to hit harder. just don't leave this short, but hit harder. this year president erdogan, just this morning, was asking president trump to be cautionary and wait. clearly the relation between trump and the last year made a big change in angara, but it is still...

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