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tv   BBC News  BBC News  April 14, 2018 11:00am-11:31am BST

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this is bbc news. i'm matthew price live in beirut. just a few hours ago, american, british and french missiles hit several different target in sight syria. the targets were outside damascus and in and around the capital of syria. they were all so in and around the city of hommes. three alleged chemical sites were targeted in an overnight operation. the biggest show of force against the men donald trump described as a monster. for british tornadojets for british tornado jets were involved in the operation. theresa may said there was no practicable alternative to the use of force. we judge it highly likely, both that
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the syrian regime has continued to use chemical weapons since then and will continue to do so. this must be stopped. the russian military says the syrian government forces have shot down more than a dozen of the missiles. russia has warned there will be consequences. we are alive in beirut on bbc news. in the last 12 hours or so, britain, the united states and france have taken part in a joint military operation which has led to missile strikes being conducted against targets that those three countries they have degraded president assad's ability to use chemical weapons. the
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government in damascus, of course, it says it has not too been using chemical weapons, but that is not the position of the white house, downing street or the leaves a. john said this was part of a sustained effort against the use of chemical weapons by damascus. —— president trump said. what that meant was not obvious. until the defence secretary said, andi obvious. until the defence secretary said, and i quote, the bombing was a one—time shots. president trump was also talking about diplomatic and economic measures as well, which he believes will put further pressure on damascus. in a briefing, the pentagon said the explosions hit the capital as well as two locations near the city of hommes. however, details from russia was my depends ministry suggested that other airfields were also targeted. in addition to two chemical weapons sites, theresa may said the attacks we re sites, theresa may said the attacks were designed to deter the use of chemical weapons either regime of
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bashar al—assad, adding that there was no practicable alternative to the use of force. my colleague has this report. with afterburners glowing, with afterburners glowing, and loaded with storm shadow cruise with storm shadow cruise missiles, four raf tornadoes take to the skies as britain's contribution to raids overnight in response to syria's alleged use of chemical weapons. their target, a bunker and command post near the city of homs, believed to be the location of stockpiled syrian supplies. in the syrian capital damascus, the target was a research laboratory. the skies above the city lit up with incoming missiles, and the interceptor rockets fired in retaliation. night—vision footage appears to show at least one being hit.
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syria claims 13 were destroyed before reaching their targets. last night's strikes by the us, the uk and france were significantly larger than the us action a year ago, and specifically designed to have a greater impact on the regime's capability and willingness to use chemical weapons. this collective action sends a clear message that the international community will not stand by and tolerate the use of chemical weapons. the raids targeted locations on the outskirts of the syrian capital damascus and homs. in washington, president trump sent this message to syria's allies iran and russia. what kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder 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.
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other reaction was confined to twitter. a spokesman said his country syrian television show these pictures of what was said to be damage caused by one of the missile strikes against homs. three civilians were said to have been injured. on the street damascus, there was defiance this morning. this man said the enemy missiles we re this man said the enemy missiles were destroyed in the syrian skies and his country had not been
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affected in any way. just reiterate what was being said at the end of that report, donald trump said after the strikes took place that it was the us‘s intention to make sure that the production and use of chemical weapons was degraded in syria. he said that was in the interests of the united states. like to washington now and chris butler whojoins us from to washington now and chris butler who joins us from there. on the comments pages and in newspaper coverage of this, all around the world, there is some confusion. president trump said to the effect of this was action that would continue, and under defence secretary, james mattis, said this was one might strikes. what is going on? is it just was one might strikes. what is going on? is itjust one night of strikes?
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i will give you exactly the quote from james matters, in which he said very clearly that this was a one—time shop. an indication that this was a one—off military action. i will quote exactly what donald trump said, he said we are prepared to sustain this response until being syrian regime stopped its use of prohibited chemical agent. he was talking about a range of things there. military, economic and diplomatic means. but certainly president trump was holding out the option for potentially more military action if there was a repeat of chemical weapons being used. and it must be said that there is a bit of the divide between the pentagon and the divide between the pentagon and the white house in the way they have approached this particular strike. there are indications that president trump wanted a more aggressive, perhaps more significant strike. and that those in the pentagon, for example, james matters, were very much feeling that it should be a more limited strike. in those
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conversations, we don't necessarily know who one, but if you judge what happens overnight, it seems to have been a more limited strike. extremely targeted in terms of attacking facilities where chemical weapons will be produced, where they work being stored or where they were being researched. it has been a targeted, precise attack. as perhaps not, i suppose, targeted, precise attack. as perhaps not, isuppose, a targeted, precise attack. as perhaps not, i suppose, a grand adventure which president trump may have wanted. —— as perhaps not. i was talking here in beirut to a former adviser to the obama administration. she has great expertise on syria, she still has contacts within the white house and within the defence department and elsewhere in washington. she was backing up your reports there about donald trump had indeed wanted to go in hard but state department, defence department pulled him back forfear defence department pulled him back for fear of possible reprisals. defence department pulled him back
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forfear of possible reprisals. do they think, bearing that in mind, that this was limited, no one is not enough, this was much less than damascus might have periods, does the white house think that it has achieved its aim? does it honestly think the pressure is put onjust achieved its aim? does it honestly think the pressure is put on just a few hours ago here, firing iio think the pressure is put on just a few hours ago here, firing 110 or thereabouts missiles over about 70 minutes, does it think that puts enough pressure on bashar al—assad to stop using chemical weapons? to getan to stop using chemical weapons? to get an idea of how limited it is, president trump spoke at 4am in damascus time, when you are at the moment is, and he spoke at 4am and then at spine am, an hour later, only after an hour after those missiles has started firing, effectively it was over and the pentagon were able to get a situation on an idea of what had happened over the last 60 minutes. really, this was a one—hour bombing campaign. that gives you an idea of
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the limitation. however, what they're trying to say, i think, is that considering there was a quart native attack here, this was involving the forces of the us, france and the uk, it was sending out a signal from an international response that this was not a cce pta ble response that this was not acceptable behaviour. president assad could not be allowed to use chemical weapons. and that he had crossed a red line in this latest attack, which they regarded as being attack, which they regarded as being a significant escalation. it is about sending a message to president assad and also a message to his allies. ultimately, dealing with the wider issue of syria and dealing with the problems caused by the conflict there and indeed the difficulties with president assad's regime, that is much more complex. already you have political opponents of president trump here in washington saying, it is very well to say that you were going to do something, that you are going to address something, but ultimately
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what does that mean? you have a strategy for it? president trump himself is not someone who has campaigned on the idea of america sorting out the world's problems. he has had an american first agenda. it was only two weeks ago that he was saying he wanted the 2000 us troops inside syria to go, to leave syria, to go back home to america asked to leave syria for other people to sort out. now he finds himself in a position where he has been interventionist, yet again, and year after the last time that there was a missile strike involving america. perhaps there are questions about how much he does want to get involved and how much america, france and the uk do their responsible at the about what potentially happens next. thank you for that insight as to what is being false and washington. i want to bring in our correspondent in the middle east here in beirut. we have just heard what the thinking is in
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washington. what is the thinking in damascus? we have had a statement from the syrian foreign ministry. they have come out to condemn these attacks. they say they are illegal and doomed to failure. we have also seen video of president assad entering the presidential palace. his message is business as normal. he is wearing his business suit, he is calm. he may be thinking he has got off lightly. expectations were fairly high at the start of the week. had the military action matched the rhetoric we saw, it would have been very serious. what we have seen, according to america, britain and france, is surgical precise strikes. the exact opposite of the tweets we were hearing about. and the wider region, as the rhetoric was wrapped up a bit week, there were concerns about iran, lebanon, his brother. there were concerns about what might happen involving israel. —— his brother. so
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far, despite fine words from the iranians, that is it. we have had a war of words, strong criticism. i think the fear was that it could potentially ignite a wider conflict. that appears not to have happens now. let's not forget that this remains a very, getting worse. before this multi—reaction, we saw an allegedly israeli air strike which killed iranians personnel on the grounds. we are talking a lot about russia and america, but there are so many dynamics. the critical one is israel and iraq. thank you for that analysis. let's go straight over to moscow now to find out the words from the kremlin. i suppose the word from the kremlin, there is one thing in public but can you detect at tall the mood music behind the scenes? certainly some very
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angry words in public. we heard from the russian ambassador to the united states this morning talking about consequences. we have had a statement from the russian president, vladimir putin, just give you a sample of its... he called the strikes an act of aggression against a sovereign state that indulges the terrorists. he goes on to restate the russian position that the alleged chemical weapon attack in the, there was —— that was a week ago, was staged as a pretext for launching these strikes. in private, it's likely that people here are breathing a sigh of relief. there hasn't been any military contact between russian forces but we know are operating in syria, russian forces and russian naval base there, the fear running up to these strikes was that there would be some sort of contact and that the russians would
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feel that it was necessary for them to response in a military way. things could have gotten very serious, very quickly. that has not happened. it should also be said that the story of what happened last night is being pretty heavily contested here by the ministry of defence. there was a briefing this morning and they went through a list of what had happened overnight in terms of the strikes. they insist that it wasn't just these chemical weapons the 70s and places related to chemical weapons productions. that a series of air bases were also targeted last night. and indeed that most of the missiles that were fired as part of that attack ended up being intercepted by the syrian military. the russian air defence system was not brought into use last night because the strikes were away from russian control. the areas. according to the russian military,
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the syrian defence system, air defence system, shot down about 70 more than 100 missiles that were fired last night. like you very much. i want to bring you up—to—date with what the british by minister, theresa may, has been saying. she says what happened in the early hours of the morning here in the middle east was a sending by the united states, uk and france of a clear message that the use of chemical weapons would not be tolerated. that step into a little bit of the press conference she held at downing street a couple of hours ago. as always, they have served our
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country with the greatest professionalism and bravery. and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. we would have preferred an alternative path, but on this occasion there is none. we cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised. either within syria, on the streets of the uk or elsewhere. we must reinstate the global consensus that chemical weapons cannot be used. this action is absolutely, in —— in britain's national interest. the lesson of history is that when the global rules and standards that keep us safe co m e rules and standards that keep us safe come under threat, we must take a stand and defend them. that is what our country has always done. and that is what we will continue to do. i will take a number of
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questions. but we start with laura. thank you, reminisced. your logic is that chemical attacks must not go unpunished. will you do the same again if president assad does the same again? as you have suggested he has. and do you feel you have the public's consents, given that you have not consulted mps in parliament. as i said in my statement, the purpose of the action that took place last night was to degrade and to terror the capability and willingness of the syrian regime... the british prime ministers speaking a couple of hours ago. in the last few minutes, we have had a comment from the syrian president, basharal—assad. he says
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that the aggression came after it the realisation by the western imperialist forces supporting terrorism that they have lost control. in the meantime, they felt that they lost credibility before their peoples and the world. that is president assad who has been speaking in the last few minutes. that's had to the british ministry of defence. i suppose now what we are waiting for is raf, in the case of britain, and the us air force satellite images of what they have hits, where they have hit the damage they have done, so that they add credence to their claim, the british and french and american claim, that they have done significant damage to they have done significant damage to the chemical weapons programme. that's right. the british contribution to the attacks seems to have been storm shadow cruise missiles fired from four tornado jets. these cruise missiles applied asa jets. these cruise missiles applied as a very low altitude after being released from the jerks, and then write up quickly before they reach
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the target, look at the target and then dive into the target. they have sort of bunker busting capabilities. the british right of the attack was attacking a place where precursor chemicals, used to make chemical weapons, believed to have been stored 15 miles or so outside homs. the british assessment was that those missiles hit the targets and did the damage that was expected and didn't cause either contamination or damage to civilians who weren't believed to be living close. as you say, at this stage, that is only an initial assessment. it will take some time either with satellite imagery and other sorts of aerial imagery and other sorts of aerial imagery before they can be absolutely sure that that's what happened. everyone seems to be pretty content that at least the british contribution to this, which was for missiles out of 100 so, was successful. the british saying it was necessary and the right thing to do. critically, the defence
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minister, —— defence secretary, gavin williams, saying that we don't expect we will be in a position where we have to make further strikes. for now, that seems to be at. banks very much. let's go to jerusalem. —— thank you. i keep joining us. former british army officer of many decades who worked in british intelligence as well. i wonder what your analysis is of these strikes. there is some cynicism here in the region that will have achieved much. cynicism here in the region that will have achieved muchlj cynicism here in the region that will have achieved much. i think whatever they achieved practically on the ground against assad's forces that his chemical capabilities, which we don't know yet, we won't know until proper assessments are made, whatever effect that hands, they definitely sent a message to assad about using chemical weapons. that was one of the primary objectives of this strike. the other
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one was to send a message to the world that it cannot become the norm to use chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction. that's not forget when president obama fails to enforce his own red line on this back in 2013, we then saw not just the use of chemical weapons, we saw increased russian aggression in ukraine, the russian intervention in syria and increased iranians aggression across the least. this is the consequence of not acting. i would hope and expect that the consequence of acting this way is to deter people such as those i have just mentioned. how difficult is it, we have had something in the last half hour of the machinations is behind—the—scenes in washington, president trump wanted to go in haaretz, the defence and state department saying we have to go softer, because we do not want to hit the russians? how difficult is it as an intelligence analysts to make the calculation of how hard you going? i think it rings true that
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those rumours from washington ring true, that president trump and i'm sure his new national security adviser, john bolton, was a bit wanting to hit assad as hard as possible because, of course, last time there was a strike by the us, one year ago, time there was a strike by the us, one yearago, in time there was a strike by the us, one year ago, in similar circumstances, that didn't have the necessary deterrent effect. it was required that this strike was at least twice as hard, probably more than twice. java bolton both would have wa nted than twice. java bolton both would have wanted a heavy strike. the army, the armed forces there, would have been very cautious about hitting russian targets because, as quite rightly, too. a compromise between a hard and making sure we didn't start what we didn't want to start with russia is what we have seen. thank you very much. we're going to need very quickly to downing street in london. norman smith is there for us. the
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indications from the british reminisced, the american president and others at the moment is that the strikes over the last few hours, thatis strikes over the last few hours, that is its militarily for now. the town from theresa may was very much one of reassurance that we are not one of reassurance that we are not on the cost of getting sucked into something much more significance. we are not about regime change, or trying to influence the civil war in syria. this was a specific targeted strike designed to degrade president assad's chemical weapons stocks and deter him from wider use of them. two other interesting things we had from mrs may today. the clear linkage with the nerve agent attack in salisbury, saying that that's too was an example of countries being too ready to use chemical weapons. the other thing, which struck me as very clear indication that mrs mayor is not minded to have a commons vote, a retrospective comments vote, to approve last night's air strikes. there will certainly be a political
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row about that. norman smith in downing street, thank you very much. as you would imagine, there has been quite some concern in some areas of this region about what exactly the us and its allies might be threatening. there was all that rhetoric and beginning of the week. president trump coming out very hard calling president assad an animal. syria hitting back verbally and then you had a run and others throwing their thoughts, saying do not do anything that escalates into a wider conflict. it appears that for now the military reaction force been limited and targeted and have—nots, is not going to be too that wider conflagration. you have been watching a bbc news special bike from. goodbye from us for now. hello. things looking brighter and
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warmer as the weekend begins. tomorrow there is some rain moving northwards once again. make the most of what will be a mainly dry the weekend. running up with some sunny spells. the wind picks up, especially western parts. wetter weather returns into tomorrow. but it is right for most of us for the rest of today. not going to be clear blue skies, a lot of cloud around, but breaks allowing brighter and sunny spells. that's an improvement on recent days. improvements in temperatures along the north sea coast, which has been so chilly for several days. back into double figures. the wind blowing off shore. for the grand national at aintree, a top target of 15 degrees and songwriter breaks coming through the cloudy skies at times. there is a chance for a late day showers across southern england and wales. especially south—east england and east anglia the first part of the night. as the night goes on, cloud
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and outbreaks of rain pushing towards northern ireland, wales and south—west england. north—east scotla nd south—west england. north—east scotland close to freezing in the cold est scotland close to freezing in the coldest spots. most of us around four to 8 degrees. there could be some fog patches into eastern england as sunday begins. for the rest the weekend, low pressure coming our way, going to the best rain northwards across the uk with a strengthening winds. especially in the west. a breezy picture on sunday, quite windy the further west you are. some cloud and outbreaks of rain feeding north. none of it amounting to too much. far north of scotla nd amounting to too much. far north of scotland staying mainly dry. brighter skies coming back to northern ireland, wales, south—west england. they could be acute with heavy showers, maybe with a rumble of thunder. twitter is a little bit lower. through the week ahead, temperatures are heading higher, particularly for midweek. some places may get a 2k degrees. high teens and 20s widely, widespread
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spring warmth. even in scotland, temperatures in some spots reaching about 20. from it which, on monday still a good deal of cloud, quite windy in western parts. through monday and tuesday, another area of rainfall leading in to northern ireland and scotland. that is your latest forecast. enjoy your weekend. the hello and welcome to dateline london. dateline london. i'm jane hill. our programme today is dominated by the missile strike on syria carried out by the us, uk and france — following the apparent use of chemical weapons on the people of douma, a week ago. what happens next, and will this have any impact on the long—running civil war in syria ? my guests this week: henry chu, the american writer and european editor of variety, the arab affairs writer abdel bari atwan, the russian commentator and former kremlin advisor alexander nekrassov and bronwen maddox of the institute for government, former the foreign editor of
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the times newspaper. welcome to you all. as we go to air, the us, uk and france have hit multiple government sites in syria in overnight strikes — in response to the apparent use of chemical weapons on the residents of douma, near damascus. the us defence secretary james mattis called the action a "one—time shot" — the administration stressing this is not about regime change. the british prime minister theresa may said the action sends a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity. syria described the attacks as illegal and doomed to fail — its ally russia called them an act of aggression. henry — this is fire and forget?
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