Despite US Missile Barrage, Syria Continues Airstrikes against Rebels

By Loveluck, Louisa; Zakaria, Zakaria et al. | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), April 9, 2017 | Go to article overview

Despite US Missile Barrage, Syria Continues Airstrikes against Rebels


Loveluck, Louisa, Zakaria, Zakaria, Post, Washington, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


BEIRUT * Residents of the Syrian town devastated by a chemical weapons attack Tuesday said warplanes had returned to bomb them Saturday, despite a U.S. missile barrage and warnings of possible further response.

At least 86 people in the northwestern town of Khan Sheikhoun were killed Tuesday in a chemical attack that left hundreds choking, convulsing or foaming at the mouth. Eyewitnesses and a monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Saturday that fresh attacks on the area now a virtual ghost town had killed one woman and wounded several others.

Photographs from the site showed a pair of green slippers, abandoned next to a blood-spattered doorway.

Residents cowered in bedrooms and basements throughout Saturday, underscoring the apparently unchanged threat they faced from the Syrian government's arsenal of rockets, barrel bombs and other weapons that have resulted in a majority of the conflict's half-million dead.

In retaliation for Tuesday's chemical assault, President Donald Trump ordered missile strikes on a Syrian airfield housing a jet fleet responsible for extensive bombing across northern Syria.

The missile barrage is the first direct military action the United States has taken against Syrian President Bashar Assad's government in the six-year-long conflict.

Although Trump warned of possible further intervention, the Pentagon has said no other strikes against government targets are in current plans.

Although American officials predicted that the strikes would result in a major shift of Assad's calculus, they appeared to be symbolic in practice. Within 24 hours of the attack, monitoring groups reported that jets were taking off from the bombed Shayrat air base once again, this time to bomb Islamic State positions.

There were also reports of Syrian government and Russian airstrikes across the provinces of Damascus, Aleppo, Idlib and Daraa, all killing civilians. However, there were no reports of further use of chemical weapons.

"The American strikes did nothing for us. They can still commit massacres at anytime," said Majed Khattab, speaking by phone from Khan Sheikhoun. "No one here can sleep properly. People are really afraid."

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described Trump's decision to retaliate as welcome, but not enough.

"If this intervention is limited only to an air base, if it does not continue and if we don't remove the regime from heading Syria, then this would remain a cosmetic intervention," he said. …

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