Tag Archives: Syria

Trump Not Reversing Course In Syria

(Washington, DC-AP) — President Trump is insisting that he is not reversing course in Syria. Talking with reporters at the White House today, Trump defended his decision to leave a couple of hundred U.S. troops in the war-torn country.

“At the same time, we  can leave a small force along with others in the force whether it’s NATO troops or whoever it might be so that it won’t start up again. And I’m okay.  It’s a very small tiny fraction of people that we have.”

He still plans to remove most of the more than two-thousand American forces from Syria. Trump again argued that ISIS is being destroyed in Syria. He said nobody else has been able to do that.

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U.S. Troops Begin Syria Pullout

(AP) – The U.S. military pullout from Syria has started. A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq said today that the withdrawal of troops and equipment is now underway. However, Colonel Sean Ryan did not give any specific details about troop movements and timing.

This comes just days after White House national security adviser John Bolton seemed to contradict President Trump’s order last month for two-thousand U.S. troops to leave Syria. Bolton said this week that the withdrawal wouldn’t be immediate and wouldn’t happen until ISIS is completely defeated. Bolton said it also would require Turkey’s pledge not to attack America’s Kurdish allies in Syria.

Some Republicans Critical Of Plans To Withdraw Troops From Syria

(Washington, DC-AP) — Not all Republicans are on board with President Trump’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Florida’s Marco Rubio called it a colossal mistake and a grave error. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham called it a “huge Obama-like mistake.”

President Trump tweeted yesterday that ISIS has been defeated in Syria, and that combating ISIS was the only reason for being there. Graham responded, “With all due respect, ISIS is not defeated.” Russia, Iran and the Syrian regime have long desired for the U.S. to pull out of Syria.

Bashar al-Assad To Meet With Kim Jong Un

(Pyongyang) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is planning a trip to Pyongyang to meet with North Korean lead Kim Jong Un. North Korean state media Sunday reported the planned meeting, which comes after Assad received the credentials of the North Korean ambassador to Syria.

The U.N. has accused North Korea of working with Syria on chemical weapons, something both nations deny. Depending on when the meeting takes place, it could be the first time Kim publicly meets with a foreign head of state in Pyongyang since taking power in 2011. A planned summit between Kim and President Trump is set for June 12th in Singapore.

In related news, the White House is in the early stages of organizing a summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The Wall Street Journal” reported that the effort aims at resolving differences about nuclear weapons, Syria and Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has reportedly been working for months to make the meeting happen. The two leaders have met twice before during other international gatherings.

UN Security Council Meets Over Syria Airstrikes

(SL) – The U.S. is “locked and loaded” if Syria chooses to use chemical weapons again. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley delivered the promise from President Trump at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. The council met today over the joint airstrikes launched against targets in Syria last night. Haley insisted that the strikes were a justified and proportionate reaction to a chemical weapons attack attributed to Syria’s government. She also accused Russia of aiding and abetting the Syria regime, enabling it to use chemical weapons with impunity.

Russia’s ambassador blasted the U.S. and its allies for what he called a complete disregard for international law. He raised doubts on whether the reported chemical weapons attack that prompted the airstrikes actually took place. He added that the U.S. is pandering to terrorists who have kept Syria in the grip of chaos for years.

State Department Calls Alleged Syrian Chemical Attack ‘Horrifying’

(Washington, DC) – The U.S. State Department is condemning a suspected chemical attack on Syrian citizens. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the U.S. is “closely following disturbing reports” of the attack in a suburb of Damascus that killed dozens of people.

The State Department hadn’t been able to confirm chemicals were used, but nonetheless called the suspected attack “horrifying.” In a statement, Nauert said reports indicate a “potentially high number of casualties.” She said if the reports are confirmed, it would demand an immediate response from the international community.

U.S. Soldier Killed In Syria Identified

(Syria) – The U.S. soldier killed in a roadside explosion in Syria is being identified. The Department of Defense says Master Sergeant Jonathan Dunbar was killed alongside a British serviceman Friday after an IED exploded near their patrol. Five others were injured in the blast. The 36-year-old from Austin, Texas began his military service in 2005, and had deployed once to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. His death is the second U.S. combat death to happen in Syria.

The attack happened a day after President Trump told a group of union workers in Ohio of his intentions to get out of Syria. The Trump administration froze 200-million-dollars of aid promised to the country.

Court: Trump “Exceeded Scope Of Authority” On Travel Ban

(SL) – A U.S. Appeals Court says President Trump “exceeded the scope of his delegated authority” with his latest version of the hotly contested travel ban. In a unanimous decision yesterday, a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said its ruling would be put on hold pending by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That means the ban targeting people from six majority Muslim countries will remain in effect after the Supreme Court lifted temporary lower court orders preventing the latest ban from taking effect earlier this month.

The ruling says Trump’s proclamation makes no finding that simply being from one of the countries cited in the ban makes someone a security risk. The panel also said the ban should not apply to people with strong U.S. ties.

Trump issued his first travel ban in January, targeting people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen seeking to enter the country. After the first ban was blocked by federal courts, the Trump Administration issued a revised one in March, which expired in September and was replaced by the current version.

Syria To Join Climate Accord, Leaving U.S. As Only Opposition Nation

(SL) – Syria is set to join the Paris Climate Accord, leaving the United States as the only nation to stand in opposition to the landmark deal. When the accord was signed in 2015, Syria and Nicaragua were the only nations to hold out.

Nicaragua signed on in October, and this week Syrian officials announced at a climate conference in Germany their intention to send ratification papers to the U.N.

The United States signed on in 2015, but in June, President Trump announced he would withdraw from the deal, effective in 2020, with intentions of negotiating a new deal that is more favorable to American businesses.

The Paris Climate Accord is designed to bring the world’s nations together to address threats from climate change.

Trump Goes Against His Own Words With Attack On Syria, Russia Is Pissed And Syria Strikes Again

(SL) –  I can understand the moral pressure, but why kill more people to prove a point and put the imminent threat of WWIII on our heads? And……reportedly Syria flew more planes out of the same area that our  missiles hit. What’s more disturbing is the report that Syria hit the same area that was attacked with chemical weapons a few days ago again on Friday.

No report on who exactly executed the bombing, but only Russia and Syria have ordered hits on that particular area.

CNN reports, New airstrikes targeted a town in Syria that was hit by a chemical attack earlier this week, activists said, less than a day after the US bombarded a Syrian air base to “send a message” to the Assad regime.

It wasn’t immediately clear who conducted the strikes on Khan Sheikhoun, which was hit on Friday and Saturday, though only Russian and Syrian regime aircraft have been bombing that area of rebel-held Idlib province.

The latest attacks come after a missile strike early Friday by the United States on a base in western Syria that the United States says was used to launch Tuesday’s chemical attack, which left more than 85 people dead and hundreds more injured.

 The new strikes came as Russia, the Syrian regime’s main ally, sent a frigate armed with cruise missiles to a port in western Syria in an apparent show of force in response to the US action.

The strike is the first direct military action taken by the US against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s six-year civil war. It represents a substantial escalation of the US military campaign in the region, and could be interpreted by the Syrian government as an act of war.

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Shift in policy

Trump’s decision marked a dramatic shift in his position on whether the US should take military action against the Syrian President’s regime — which Trump opposed during his campaign for president — and came after the President was visibly and publicly moved by the images of this week’s chemical weapons attack.
Briefing reporters late Thursday night, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the strike did not represent a “change in our policy or our posture in Syria,” even though it marked the first time the US had decided to take military action against the Syrian government.
A senior administration official told CNN Friday that the strike should not be interpreted as the beginning of a wider campaign to weaken or remove Assad, but instead is aimed at dealing with the “unacceptability” of Assad’s use of chemical weapons.
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This official said the President’s order to his national security team to develop a plan for defeating ISIS remains the priority for the administration. That strategy is actually well on its way to being completed, the official added.
But the strikes represented not only an escalation of the US role in Syria, but could have a ripple effect on the US’ relations with the Syrian regime’s powerful backer, Russia.
Russians were present at the base the US struck, a US defense official said, though the role of those Russians was not immediately known.

A warship armed with cruise missiles has joined the Russian battlegroup off the coast of Syria as part of Moscow’s response to US cruise missile strikes on the Syrian airbase of Shayrat.

Russia’s angry declarations, a world away from hopes of a rapprochement voiced in Washington and Moscow after Donald Trump’s election, have overshadowed US secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s planned visit to Moscow. His anticipated meeting with Vladimir Putin will now be dedicated to reaching an understanding on Syria and addressing concerns over Russia’s suspension of an agreement designed to keep the world’s largest nuclear powers from accidentally clashing there.

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The frigate Admiral Grigorovich, reached the group of at least six warships off the coast of Syria, Russia state media reported. It carries Kalibr cruise missiles, the Russian equivalent to the US Tomahawk missiles fired at Shayrat, and has previously fired them at targets in the war-torn country.

While many saw the US strikes as curtailing hopes for better ties between Putin and Trump, some Russians believe they were more posturing than precision warfare.

“There’s a bad scenario with this flexing of muscles. The danger of a clash between the US and Russia in Syria is not pleasant, and it could have bad consequences,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, a leading foreign policy analyst in Moscow.