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U.S. military strike on Syria draws mixed reactions from Trump administration

New York: The U.S. military strike on the Syrian Government target in response to Tuesday’s chemical weapon attack drew mixed reactions from the officials in Trump administration.

Some welcomed what they considered as a long overdue action against the human rights abuses of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime, while others were troubled by the lack of ‘a congressional or an international authorisation.’

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the strike ‘appropriate and just,’ The Guardian reports.

“Earlier this week, the Assad regime murdered dozens of innocent men, women, and children in a barbaric chemical weapons attack. Tonight the United States responded. This action was appropriate and just. These tactical strikes make clear that the Assad regime can no longer count on American inaction as it carries out atrocities against the Syrian people,” Ryan said.

“Resolving the years-long crisis in Syria is a complex task, but Bashar al-Assad must be held accountable and his enablers must be persuaded to change course. I look forward to the administration further engaging Congress in this effort,” he added.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Russia bore responsibility for its handling of the 2013 deal that was supposed to remove Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile.

“They would act as the guarantor that these weapons would no longer be present in Syria. Clearly Russia has failed in its responsibility to deliver on that commitment from 2013. Either Russia has been complicit or Russia has been simply incompetent in its ability to deliver on its end of that agreement,” he said.

In a joint statement, senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham welcomed Trump’s actions as sending ‘an important message the United States will no longer stand idly by as Assad, aided and abetted by Putin’s Russia, slaughters innocent Syrians with chemical weapons and barrel bombs.’

In contrast, Senator Rand Paul, who has long been skeptical of military intervention, expressed his scepticism and demanded a congressional vote.

“While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the US was not attacked. The President needs congressional authorisation for military action and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate on our role. Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer and Syria will be no different,” he said.

Democrats struck a more unified tone and emphasised the need for congressional approval.

Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, said in a statement,”Any longer-term or larger military operation in Syria by the Trump administration will need to be done in consultation with the Congress. It is the president’s responsibility to inform the legislative branch and the American people about his larger policy in Syria, as well as the legal basis for this action and any additional military activities in that country.”

Echoing similar statement, Ted Lieu, a Democratic congressman from California, proclaimed the move ‘illegal’.

March to war in #Syria without a strategy is both dangerous and ILLEGAL. #Trump cannot go to war against #Assad w/o congressional approval. pic.twitter.com/OFepCDLUVH

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 7, 2017
Earlier, Syrian State TV responded to the U.S. military strike by dubbing it as ‘American aggression,’ albeit without much detail.
“American aggression targets Syrian military targets with a number of missiles,” The Guardian reported State TV as telecasting.

The Pentagon confirmed it used a hotline for minimising the risk of aerial combat between U.S. and Russian jets in eastern Syria to alert Moscow of the strike against the Syrian Government.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, however, contradicted the information and said Russia was not alerted.

Hours after launching the strike, Trump called on all ‘civilised nations’ to stop the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria. He also asserted that Assad “choked out the lives of innocent men, women and children.”

“Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention, and ignored the urging of the UN security council,” he said.

“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behaviour have all failed and failed very dramatically. As a result the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilise, threatening the United States and its allies. Tonight I call on all civilised nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types,” he added.

On Trump’s orders, U.S. warships launched between 50-60 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syria Government airbase where the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks were based, U.S. officials said.

Trump had famously said the chemical attack on Syria’s Idlib province affected his deeply and tranformed his thinking about Assad.

Dozens of people, including at least ten children, were killed and over 200 injured as a result of asphyxiation caused by exposure to an unknown gas on Tuesday.

The death toll is said to be at least 67, according to activist al-Diab, while the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported it to be 58.

The High Negotiations Committee claimed the death toll could be as high as 100 with up to 400 injured. (ANI)