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tv   BBC News  BBC News  April 14, 2018 4:00pm-4:31pm BST

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this is bbc news. i'm lyse doucet live in beirut. president trump has hailed the overnight missile strikes against syria as a success, declaring "mission accomplished!" the us, britain and france say they targeted three chemical weapons sites with more than 100 missiles. i'd use three words to describe this operation — precise, overwhelming and effective. four british tornado jets were involved in the operation. theresa may said there was "no practicable alternative to the use of force". we cannot allow the use of chemical wepaons to become normalised, either within syria, on the streets of the uk or elsewhere. russia's foreign minister says the actions of western countries in syria are unacceptable and lawless. president assad says it's an act of aggression which will make him more determined
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to fight his opponents. syria's wa hab recently syria's wahab recently entered its eighth year. the us has described the overnight strikes against syria as "precise, overwhelming and effective". the us, france and the uk fired more than 100 missiles in response to a suspected deadly chemical attack on the town of douma last week. the pentagon said that the explosions hit a scientific research facility in the capital, damascus, as well as two locations near the city of homs. president trump thanked his allies and said the strikes were "perfectly executed", declaring "mission accomplished". 0ur diplomatic correspondent, paul adams, has this report. after a week of talking, an hourof bombing. from a french ship
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in the mediterranean, a salvo of cruise missiles, 12 in all. britain acting too, tornados taking off from their base in cyprus, also loaded with missiles. a carefully co—ordinated operation led by the united states. 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. in the early hours of the morning, explosions close to the syrian capital, damascus, the target, one of three hit by america and her allies. 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
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to prevent civilian casualties. and while this action is specifically about deterring the syrian regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity. syria claims to have shot down more than a dozen missiles, but the attack involved over 100. pictures of the aftermath on syrian television. the research centre near damascus reduced to rubble. and near homs, evidence of strikes on two other chemical weapons targets. syrian officials are defiant. translation: this aggression will only increase our determination to defend our sovereignty, dignity, national security and the security of our citizens. syria says it's business as usual, pictures released appearing to show
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president assad strolling to work. the president's supporters are celebrating what they call a victory over aggression. last night's attacks were almost certainly less widespread than they expected. it seems clear that for now the bombing is over. right now, this is a one—time shot and i believe it has sent a very strong message to dissuade him, to deter him from doing this again. france says it will not hesitate to act again, but, like its allies, it says is not out to provoke. translation: we are not looking for confrontation and we do not see any logic of military escalation. that is the reason why we, with our allies, ensured the russians were warned beforehand. russia has condemned last night's operation and is calling for a meeting of the un security council, but for all its threats beforehand, it is yet to respond militarily. syrian forces at the scene of last weekend's alleged attack.
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weapons inspectors say they still expect to reach douma today. syria and russia continue to insist that nothing happened there. paul adams, bbc news. the united states defence department said the airstrikes in syria overnight had successfully hit every target and were aimed to deliver an unambiguous signal to the syrian government and deter the future use of chemical weapons. they also said they had sent a clear message to president assad about the future use of chemical weapons. lieutenant general kenneth f mckenzie detailed what had been hit. the three facilities are more appropriately now were fundamental components of the regime's chemical weapons warfare infrastructure. let's go to the first slide, please. the research and development centre. next slide.
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he coughs. pardon me. the chemical weapons storage facility. and last, in the next slide, please, the chemical weapons bunker facility, which is located about seven kilometres from the previous site. this strike aimed to deliver a clear unambiguous message to the syrian regime that their use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians is inexcusable and to deter any future use of chemical weapons. we selected these targets carefully to minimise the risk to innocent civilians. we're still conducting a more detailed damage assessment, but initial indications are that we accomplished our military objectives without material interference from syria. i'd use three words to describe this operation — precise, overwhelming and effective. 0ur correspondent, barbara plett usher, is in washington. do you get a sense from the pentagon
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state m e nts do you get a sense from the pentagon statements that they actually hope this is only one strike and that they can get on to deal with all the issues? —— other issues? i am afraid... we will have to leave it there, barbara... sorry... we do know that the secretary of defence was very worried about an accidental confrontation with russia in syria and that those targets were chosen asa and that those targets were chosen as a result to make sure there were no casualties of foreign forces and of civilians, of course. then there
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we re very of civilians, of course. then there were very limited. there were three target more than a year ago but they could have been broader. president trump had been asking for a larger strike. but since the strike is taken place, strike. but since the strike is ta ken place, they strike. but since the strike is taken place, they have declared it was successful in that they had crippled the chemical weapons campaign industry in syria, which they thought would make it difficult for the syrians to does recover for a while, and they have also indicated strongly they were not trying to open a new front. they are focused on fighting isis in the east of the country and do not want to get involved in the syrian civil war. they do want to make a statement about the use of chemical weapons but they do not want that statement, that message, to draw them into conflict with the syrian regime and their backers. so they are hoping that this message has been sent and will be abided by so they do not get drawn into the war but, having said that, they did
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indicate it would be open—ended and it would depend on president assad as to what happened next and the operative word was they had been a one—time strike at this point, indicating that, if there are other chemical weapons attacks in syria, they may be compelled to respond again. and when the dust settles, if it does, many will be quick to remember that, before this happened, president trump had made it clear he would actually like to end the mission in syria and pull out the 2000 us troops there as quickly as possible. many will now be looking for any signs of trouble as to where the overall strategy goes. —— signs at all. the administration have put forward a plan to keep its troops in the country for an indefinite period, both to prevent isis from coming back after it had cleared areas and also to give it some sort of influence in how the political
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solution to the conflict played out which is being led by russia and i run, but president trump came forward and said, we want to get the troops out of there as quickly as possible, unaware that his base is not at all in favour of us military intervention and wanting to bring troops home for that reason. when he made his speech, announcing the strike on chemical weapons facilities, he phrased it as a narrow, targeted strike on the use of chemical weapons, upholding an international convention, but he peppered his speech with statements like, we already have a small footprint there, we want to bring oui’ footprint there, we want to bring our troops home quickly, we want regional allies to step up and play a role in reconstructing the country in dealing with the political aftermath as well. so he is aware he does not want to buy this strike to indicate this is an extra commitment to syria. for now, thank you for
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joining us from the state department. let's drop york for the moment. you can see members of the un security council now meeting. the session was requested by russia. let's listen in. i urge all members to show restraint in these dangerous circumstances and to avoid any acts 01’ circumstances and to avoid any acts or could escalate matters in worsening the suffering of the syrian people. as i did yesterday, i stressed the need to avoid the situation from spiralling out of control. mr president, any use of chemical weapons is abhorrent. the suffering it causes is horrendous. i have repeatedly expressed my deep disappointment that the security council failed to agree on a dedicated mechanism for accountability for the use of
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chemical weapons in syria. it urged the security council to assume its responsibilities and fill this gap. and i will continue to engage with member states to help achieve this objective. lack of accountability emboldens those who use such weapons by providing them with the reassurance of impunity, and this further weakens the non—prescribing use of chemical weapons and international disarmament as a whole. mr president, the seriousness of the recent allegations of the use of the recent allegations of the use of chemical weapons and douma requires an investigation using impartial, independent and professional expertise. i refer my full support for the prohibition of chemical weapons and its fact—finding mission in undertaking the required investigation. the team is already in syria. i am informed
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the operations planned to visit the site and are ready to go. i am confident they will have full access without any restrictions or impediments to perform their activities. mr president, allow me to report what i said yesterday... to repeat what i said yesterday. syria represents the most serious threat to recent security. in syria we see confrontations and proxy wars involving several national armies, number of armed opposition groups, militia, foreign fighters from everywhere in the world and various terrorist organisations. from the beginning, we have witnessed systematic violations of war, international human rights law and international human rights law and international law in the disregard of the spirit of the united nations charter. for eight long years, the people of syria have enjoyed suffering upon suffering. syrians have lived through a litany of
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horrors and crimes against civilians and civilian infrastructure. sexual violence, torture, intention and the list goes on. at this critical juncture, i call on all members to act consistently with the charter of the united nations and international law including the norms against chemical weapons. if it is ignored, it is undermined. there is no military solution to the crisis, it must be the political, we must find a place to make credible progress towards a credible political solution that meet the aspirations of the syrian people to dignity and freedom in accordance with the resolution and the geneva communique. i have sparked asked my special envoy to come to new york as soon as possible to consult with me on the most effective way to accelerate the political process. the secretary general calling for
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restraint, urging members of the un's top litter the good bodies to try to reduce the risks of further tensions in the region, pointing out that the un inspectors are now on the ground, would soon be getting their work and called for an independent, impartial examination of the evidence in the rumour as to who carried out and what agents were used. let's return to the un security council and russia is speaking, the representative. an aggression against a sovereign
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state was carried out, which is on the front line in the against terrorism. just as one year ago, when the airbase in syria came under attack, the united states used as a pretext staged chemical attack against civilians. this time in douma, damascus. a russian military expert did not find any traces of chlorine or any other toxic agents when they visited the site. not a single local resident was able to confirm a chemical attack had actually taken place. the organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons dispatched its experts to syria in order to investigate the circumstances. however, in a sign of cynical
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disdain, a group of western countries decided to take military action without waiting for the results of the investigation. russia condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack against syria were russian military personnel at assisting the government in its counterterrorism efforts. through its actions, the us makes a catastrophic humanitarian situation in syria worse and bring suffering the civilians. in fact, the us panders to the terrorists who have been tormenting the syrian people for seven years. leading to a wave of refugees fleeing this country in the region. the current escalation around syria is destructive of the entire system of international relations. history will deliver its verdict and washington already bears a heavy responsibility for the bloody outrage in yugoslavia, iraq and libya. end of quote. russians done everything possible to convince
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the us and its allies to refrain from the military plans which could lead to a new spiral of violence in syria and to stabilise the middle east. the secretary general of the un at the meeting of the security council that we convened yesterday and today has expressed his concern about the way events have developed. however, in washington, london and paris, the disregard course, appeals to common sense. the united states and its allies continue to demonstrate blatant disregard for international law whether as permanent members of the security council they must be especially the in protecting the provisions of the un charter. it was shameful to hear how in justifying the aggression in an article of the us constitution was mentioned. now we have the greatest respect to the right of each state to respect their own founding law. however, washington
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should learn that the international code of behaviour regarding the use of force is regulated by the un charter. it is interesting how the people of great britain and france, what they will think when they find out that the government is taking pa rt out that the government is taking part in an illegal military adventure by referring to the american constitution. you are co nsta ntly tem pted by neocolonialism. you have nothing but disdain for the neocolonialism. you have nothing but disdainforthe un neocolonialism. you have nothing but disdain for the un charter and the security council. which you are trying to use the euro elissa aims. there is no serious work which you are doing in the security council. you do not consult us and you claim otherwise. you undermined the authority of the security council. asa authority of the security council. as a pretext, you mentioned the use
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of chemical weapons in the syrian city of douma. representatives of russia, after an inspection by our experts, stated no such incident took place. furthermore, people took pa rt took place. furthermore, people took part in this staging and, in fact, the organisers of that staging were foreign intelligence services. the syrian authorities immediately invited experts from the 0rganisation invited experts from the organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons to conduct field mission to douma to establish the fa cts . mission to douma to establish the facts. these formalities were resolved and guarantees of security we re resolved and guarantees of security were provided. at that time strikes we re were provided. at that time strikes were conducted experts were already in syria and getting ready to begin the work. i want to recall the members of the security council and eve ryo ne members of the security council and everyone else on the 10th of april, when a draft resolution on the secure work of the special mission was blocked, we were assured of the
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fa ct was blocked, we were assured of the fact that such a document was not necessary. we were told that the mission, without any additional effo rts mission, without any additional efforts by the security council, will go visit the site and conduct an investigation of the chemical incident. now it is clear we were absolutely right. yesterday, some of our colleagues naively and cynically told us that the reason of the situation is supposedly a lack of an dependent investigative mechanism. russia has shown that that is not theissue russia has shown that that is not the issue at all, as we stated. during last year's attack against the airbase, there was the joint investigative mechanism that did not prevent the us from conducting a missile strike afterwards. in fact, they made sure its conclusions coincided with his reasons for the american strike. we have said many
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times you do not meet any investigations, you did not need them then and you do not need them today. the organisers of the aggression did not even wait for the establishment of facts by international organisations which is authorised to do that. the supposedly determine everything for themselves and determine who was guilty. after... given that they themselves with the fighters that we re themselves with the fighters that were under the control, the disseminated all kinds of rumours using social media. they confirmed this through so—called secret intelligence. mythical secret intelligence. mythical secret intelligence. ladies and gentlemen, the masks or white helmets have once again fallen. we are already used to the fact that, when the conduct the
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doubtful geopolitical policies, the countries that are aggressors already blame the regime of sad. lately the shift responsibility to russia which, according to the interpretation, cannot control of the dictator. all this is based on a scheme that has been well tried, it isa scheme that has been well tried, it is a provocation com mendacious accusations, verdict and punishment. this is how you want international affairs to be conducted now? this is hooliganism in international relations, and not minor hooliganism given we are talking about major nuclear powers! several strikes were conducted against the scientific research centre. recently, two
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inspections were conducted with unimpeded access to all facilities. experts did not find any traces of activity that would contravene the chemical weapons convention. the scientific facilities in syria are used only for peaceful activity which is aimed at enhancing economic... the effectiveness of economic... the effectiveness of economic activity in syria. he wants syria to have no economy at all? you wa nt to syria to have no economy at all? you want to throw this country back into the stone age's wrote a few years ago this country was one of the most developed countries in the middle east. you want to finish off what your sanctions have not achieved yet? at the same time, you are shedding crocodile tears about the suffering of ordinary syrians. 0rdinary syrians are tired of war, happy that the legitimate authorities have freed the territory, you are not interested in
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this suffering, your aggressive actions contribute a worsening the humanitarian situation which was so worried about according to your statements. in 2a hours, you could stop the conflict in syria. washington, london, paris only have to give orders to the hand—picked terrorists to stop the fighting against the legitimate authorities and their own people. the strikes we re and their own people. the strikes were conducted against syrian military airfields which are being used in the course of an operation against terrorist organisations. it is quite an original contribution to international terrorism as washington keeps repeating, which as washington keeps repeating, which as washington keeps repeating is the only goal of its military presence in syria. we have serious doubts about that. it seems that those in
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the west to cover themselves with humanitarian rhetoric are trying to justify the action in syria by supposedly defeating jihadistss, they are actually aiming at dismember in the country. this is confirmed by the fact that the united states has refused to take pa rt united states has refused to take part in the of syria that have been freed from the jihadists. lastly, your aggression is a major strike and threat against the possibility of continuing the political process under us auspices which in spite of the objective difficulties was moving forward at varying speeds. so, what were your constant references to the geneva processes were? you yourselves using your own actions are destroying that process. we call on the united states and its allies to immediately end the
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aggressive action against syria and to refrain from them in the future. we are putting forward for your attention a draft resolution which we will demand a vote on at the end of this meeting. we would like to address the members of the security council. today is not the time to shirk responsibilities. the whole world is looking at you. take a principled stand. thank you. world is looking at you. take a principled stand. thank youlj world is looking at you. take a principled stand. thank you. i thank the representative of the russian federation for his statement and i now give the floor to the representative of the united states. thank you, mr president and secretary general for your briefing today. this is ourfifth secretary general for your briefing today. this is our fifth security council meeting in the past week to address the situation in syria. a week is gone by in which we have talked. we have talked about the victims in douma and the assad
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regime and its patrons, russia and iran. we spent a week talking about the unique horror of chemical weapons. the time for talk ended last night. we are here today because it permanent members of the un security council acted, the united kingdom, france and the united kingdom, france and the united states acted, not as revenge or punishment all as a symbolic show of force. we acted to deter the future use of chemical weapons by holding the syrian regime responsible for its atrocities against humanity. we can all see that a russian disinformation campaign is in full force this morning but russia's desperate attem pts morning but russia's desperate attempts at deflection cannot change the facts. a large body of information indicates that the syrian regime used chemical weapons in douma on 7th of april. there is
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clear information demonstrating assad's culpability. the pictures of dead children were not fake news, they were the result of the syrian regime's barbaric and humanity and the result of the regime in russia's failure to live up to their international commitments to remove or chemical weapons from syria. the united states, france and the united kingdom acted after careful evaluation of these facts. the targets we selected were at the heart of the syrian regime's illegal chemical weapons programme. the strikes were carefully planned to minimise civilian casualties. the responses were justified, legitimate and proportionate. we did not give diplomacyjust one
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chance, we gave diplomacy chance after chance, six at times, that is how many at times russia vetoed security council resolutions to address chemical weapons in syria. 0ur weapons —— address chemical weapons in syria. 0urweapons —— our address chemical weapons in syria. 0ur weapons —— our efforts go back even further. in 2013, the security council passed a resolution that required the assad

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