The Latest on the Syria conflict (all times local):
BEIRUT (AP) – The Latest on the Syria conflict (all times local):
1:45 a.m.
President Donald Trump has informed Congress in writing of his decision to order a U. S. missile strike against Syria.
Under the War Powers Resolution, the president must keep Congress informed of such actions.
Trump’s letter to congressional leaders cites the rationale he gave publicly Friday night when he announced that the U. S. and allies Britain and France were firing missiles into Syria in response to an alleged poison gas attack on Syrian rebels near Damascus the previous week. He writes that the targets were Syrian military chemical weapons-related facilities.
The president tells lawmakers that he acted to “promote the stability of the region, to deter the use and proliferation of chemical weapons, and to avert a worsening of the region’s current humanitarian catastrophe.”
___
11:40 p.m.
Germany’s foreign minister hopes the U. S.-led air strikes in Syria will result in a fresh effort to find a peaceful solution to the seven-year conflict.
Heiko Maas told public broadcaster ARD the military attack by Western nations against Bashar Assad’s forces “should make clear to all parties that we don’t just have the opportunity but the necessity to take up the political process again.”
Maas says he hopes a “window for dialogue” has opened with Moscow – Syria’s ally – now that the Russian elections have passed.
He says European Union foreign ministers will meet Monday to discuss the situation and put forward proposals for steps going forward.
Germany didn’t join the United States, Britain and France in the strikes, though Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the attack “necessary and appropriate.”
___
10:55 p.m.
French President Emmanuel Macron says France wants to launch a diplomatic initiative over Syria that would include Western powers, Russia and Turkey.
Macron, speaking on French television BFM and online site Mediapart, said “we are preparing a political solution” aiming at allowing a political solution for Syria.
He stressed the French diplomacy is able to talk with Iran, Russia and Turkey on one side, and the United States on the other side.
He said “ten days ago President Trump wanted to withdraw from Syria. We convinced him to remain.”
The U. S., France and the U. K. launched the airstrikes early Saturday on three chemical weapons facilities in Syria to punish the regime for alleged use of chemical weapons in the town of Douma on April 7.
Macron added that the Russians are “accomplices” of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime because they blocked the U. N. Security Council.
___
10:45 p.m.
French President Emmanuel Macron says the joint military strikes by the U. S., France and Britain against Syrian targets were carried out in retaliation after the allies obtained evidence that the government of Bashar Assad had used chemical weapons against its own people.
“It was retaliation, not an act of war,” Macron said in a live interview on French TV channel BMF and online investigative site Mediapart.
Macron said the allies had “full international legitimacy to intervene” in Syria because the strikes were about enforcing international humanitarian law.
The French leader said the allies were forced to act without an explicit U. N. mandate because of the “constant stalemate of the Russians” in the Security Council.
Macron said, “We had arrived at a time when these strikes had become indispensable.”
“The regime of Bashar Assad has an enemy who is his people,” Macron said.
___
10:25 p.m.
French President Emmanuel Macron says airstrikes launched in Syria by the U. S., France and the U. K. were a success.
Macron said “the operation we decided (on) has been perfectly conducted” on French television BFM and online site Mediapart.
He said all missiles struck their targets.
The Syrian regime and the Russians “claim they have no victims on their side,” he said.
“That’s exactly what we wanted to do,” he added.
The U. S., France and the U. K. launched the airstrikes early Saturday on three chemical weapons facilities in Syria to punish the regime for alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians in the country.
___
10:15 p.m.
Germany’s foreign minister hopes the U. S.-led air strikes in Syria will result in a fresh effort to find a peaceful solution to the seven-year conflict.
Heiko Maas told public broadcaster ARD that the military attack by western nations against Bashar Assad’s forces “should make clear to all parties that we don’t just have the opportunity but the necessity to take up the political process again.”
Maas says he hopes a “window for dialogue” has opened with Moscow – Syria’s ally – now that the Russian elections are over.
Germany didn’t join the United States, Britain and France in the strikes, though Chancellor Angela Merkel called the attack “necessary and appropriate.”
___
9:45 p.m.
Pro-Russian Czech President Milos Zeman has condemned the allied airstrikes in Syria.
In a radio interview Sunday, Zeman said a military action against any state can only be carried out after approval from the U. N. Security Council. He said attacks against Islamic militants should be the only exception.
Zeman also said the strikes were a mistake because they came at a time when refugees were returning to the war-ravaged country.
The president also criticized acting Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ positive response to the strikes. Babis said Saturday that they were “inevitable” because the regime of President Bashar Assad uses chemical weapons to attack civilians. After meeting Zeman on Sunday, Babis backtracked, saying the strikes don’t solve anything.
In the Czech Republic, the government is in charge of the foreign policy, not the president.
6:50 p.m.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader says the Western strikes against Syria following alleged use of chemical weapons will likely complicate prospects of a political solution and have failed to achieve any of their results.
Speaking by video link at a rally of his supporters on Sunday, Hassan Nasrallah says the U. S.-ordered strikes have strained international relations and could totally “torpedo” the U. N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva. He says the strikes were “limited” and were recognition of the strength of the “resistance axis.” The term is in reference to the alliance between Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.
The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group, founded originally to fight Israel’s occupation of Lebanese territories, has sent hundreds of fighters to back the troops of President Bashar Assad in the war, now in its eighth year.
U. S. President Donald Trump and his British and French allies say the airstrikes were necessary to deter Syria’s use of chemical weapons. Syria and Russia deny any chemical weapons were used and insist the Western powers had no evidence.
___
6:20 p.m.
U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says the U. S. will be imposing more economic sanctions on Russia for its support of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his apparent use of chemical weapons.
Haley says Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will be making the announcement by Monday and it will affect companies that are “dealing with equipment related to Assad and any chemical weapons use.”
She tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Russia needs to feel the consequences for protecting the Assad regime. Haley notes that Russia has vetoed six resolutions in the United Nations Security Council regarding chemical weapons.
Haley says the fact that Assad was making the use of chemical weapons “more normal and that Russia was covering this up, all that has got to stop.”
Syrian opposition activists and first responders say a chemical attack on the town of Douma, near the Syrian capital, killed more than 40 people on April 7.
___
6:15 p.m.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani have held a telephone conversation to discuss Syrian conditions in the wake of a joint missile airstrike by the U. S., U. K. and France on the country.
The leaders “agreed that this illegal action is adversely impacting prospects for political settlement in Syria,” a statement by the Kremlin said Sunday.

Continue reading...