Assad ultimately to blame for missile attack on Syria

President Donald J. Trump’s declaration of “mission accomplished” following Friday night’s missile attack on specific Syrian targets is premature considering what Syria’s strongman Bashar Assad has done over the past year after the United States unleashed missiles on an airfield from which chemical weapons were loaded onto aircraft and dropped on innocent civilians.

There should be no doubt about Assad’s intentions to continue using chemical weapons in an effort to break the spirit of the rebel forces engaged in a seven-year civil war against the government.

Trump’s use of the words “mission accomplished” brings to mind former President George W. Bush’s declaration after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was deposed following the invasion by U.S.-led forces. Saddam had been accused of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction that Bush claimed were going to be used against Iraq’s neighbors.

No weapons were found, but after Saddam’s capture by U.S. forces and his ultimate death, Iraq collapsed under the weight of sectarian violence.

But while we believe that Trump was premature in his declaration, we do applaud him for the way he orchestrated Friday night’s attack (early Saturday morning in Syria) with America’s key allies Britain and France.

All three countries participated in the military response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons on innocent men, women and children a couple of weeks ago. More than 40 civilians were killed and hundreds were injured.

The 100 missiles launched from U.S., French and British ships and warplanes were aimed at three targets: the Barzah chemical weapons research and development site in the Damascus area; a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs; and a chemical-weapons bunker a few miles from the second target.

The U.S.-led operation won broad support from Western nations. The NATO alliance gave its full backing, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels the attack was about ensuring that chemical weapons are not used with impunity.

Pure evil

The fact that the operation was clearly defined by President Trump as a response to Assad’s act of pure evil is the reason the world community, by and large, supported the action.

It should come as no surprise that Assad’s two key backers, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, joined him in condemning the U.S., French and British response to the crimes against humanity.

Trump was on point Friday night during his address to the nation when he condemned Russia for “supporting, equipping and financing the criminal Assad regime.”

“To Iran and to Russia I ask, what kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murderer of innocent men, women and children?

“The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nations can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants and murderous dictators.”

While we applaud the president for his strong condemnation of Assad’s allies in Moscow and Tehran, we must point out that Trump’s embrace of Putin undermines his harsh criticism of the Russian dictator.

Putin has been fomenting trouble around the world, and Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea is proof of his desire to resurrect the Soviet Union.

President Trump’s embrace of Putin is shortsighted and troubling. It sends the wrong message to all freedom- loving people around the world who are looking to the United States for moral leadership.

We reiterate our call to the president to cut Putin loose, deal with him from a position of strength and withdraw the invitation for the Russian leader to visit the White House.

Trump must know that Russia and Iran are not going to take the missile attack on Syria lying down. They, along with the Assad regime, will retaliate in some fashion, which is why the U.S., Britain and France must not let down their guard.

There still are numerous facilities around Syria that produce chemical weapons.

Trump has issued a stern warning to Assad: The U.S., France and Britain are locked and loaded in the event Syria unleashes another chemical attack.

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