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What began as a peaceful uprising against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad six years ago has become a full-scale civil war that has left more than 300,000 people dead and millions displaced, devastated the country and drawn in global powers.
The U.S. launched cruise missiles against Syria on Friday, a day after President Donald Trump said a chemical weapons attack that killed at least 86, including dozens of women and children, “crossed many, many” lines. Here’s a rundown of the latest developments.
The Background: One of the worst chemical bombings in Syria turned a northern rebel-held area into a toxic kill zone on Tuesday, inciting international outrage over the ever-increasing government impunity shown in the country’s six-year war. In 2013, then U.S. President Barack Obama set a "red line" against the use of chemical weapons by Syria's President Bashar Assad. The regime proceeded to use the weapons to kill about 1,400 civilians, including hundreds of children, according to United States government estimates at the time, but Obama decided not to attack — a move Trump and other Republicans widely criticized as making America look weak. Syria has denied that it possesses chemical weapons.
The Attack: Fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired on Friday morning from the destroyers USS Porter and Ross in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, targeted the Shayrat Airfield where Syria based the warplanes used in the chemical attack, according to Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. The missiles destroyed aircraft, hardened hangars, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems and radar at the base. Here’s what President Trump said about the military action.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reacted with outrage to U.S. cruise missile strikes on a Syrian military air base, calling them an “unjust and arrogant aggression” that would only increase his government’s determination to “crush” militant groups in Syria.
Russia, Syria’s ally, froze a critical agreement on military cooperation with the United States in Syria. Russia also said it would bolster Syria’s air defense systems, and was reported to be planning to send a frigate into the Mediterranean Sea to visit the logistics base at the Syrian port of Tartus. Russia said the U.S. broke international law
The UN Secretary General António Guterres has appealed to parties involved in the Syrian conflict for restraint to avoid adding to the suffering of Syria’s people.
Turkey viewed the strikes positively and the international community should sustain its stance against the "barbarity" of the Syrian government, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said.
British Prime Minister Theresa May's office called it "an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime," saying it was "intended to deter further attacks."
"Iran strongly condemns any such unilateral strikes ... such measures will strengthen terrorists in Syria ... and it will complicate the situation in Syria and the region," ISNA news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hints Australia may be joining U.S. strike on Assad regime.
- European Council President Donald Tusk also voiced support for the missile strikes.
Al-Shabab militants, al-Qaeda allies who have been battling Somalia’s UN backed government, have been offered a 60-day amnesty amid a declaration of war on the group. Fighters who gave themselves up would receive training, employment and education, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo said.
The Dalai Lama visited a Buddhist monastery in Dian’s disputed northeast border region, triggering an angry reaction from China. China’s foreign ministry noted that the visit by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, “severely harms China’s interest and the China-India relationship.”
North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan from the east coast city of Sinpo, South Korean military confirmed. The launch was the latest in a series of missile a nuclear weapon tests that have drawn condemnation from the U.S. and other world powers.
An explosion killed 14 people on a subway in St. Petersburg, Russia leaving more than 40 other people injured. The blast occurred while President Vladimir Putin was in the city. Investigators were treating the incident as a possible terrorist attack. Authorities in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan said that one suspect was a Kyrgyz-born Russian, eight other have been arrested in connection with the bombing.
Three people were killed when a truck ploughed into a crowd on a shopping street and crashed into a department store in central Stockholm on Friday. Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said everything indicates it was "a terror attack."
U.S. President Donald Trump praised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi after the two met in the White House. Sisi was barred from the White House under former President Barack Obama over his record on human rights. Trump pledged his support for Sisi and said the U.S. and Egypt would work together to fight terrorism.
Chinese state media say U.S. President Donald Trump has accepted an invitation from his Chinese counterpart to visit China later this year. The official Xinhua News Agency reported late Thursday that Trump will travel to China at an "early date" in 2017 but gave no details. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first meeting this week at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
In a seven to three ruling, the Supreme Court in Brazil banned federal and civil police officers as well as firefighters from going on strike, barring it as unconstitutional. The judges said that anyone working directly in the area of public security had no right to go on strike “in any form or manner” because they carried out “an essential activity for the safeguarding of the public order.”
Venezuelan security forces clashed with protesters on the streets of Caracas as thousands gathered to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to seize power from the legislature.
Lenín Moreno, Ecuador’s ruling party candidate, is celebrating his narrow presidential election victory as 99% of the votes are counted. However, the leftwing candidate is facing fraud allegations from opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso, whose supporters have been protesting in the streets.