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Watch: President Donald Trump orders precision strikes against Syria chemical weapons capabilities

U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement about Syria at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement about Syria at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday ordered precision strikes targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities, as explosions were heard in the Syrian capital of Damascus.

Trump said a combined operation with France and Britain was underway and that they were prepared to sustain the response until Syria stopped its use of chemical weapons. The operation by the three allies came after a poison gas attack in Syria that killed at least 60 people last week.

“A short time ago, I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad,” Trump said in a televised address from the White House.

A U.S. official told Reuters the strikes were aimed at multiple targets and involved Tomahawk cruise missiles.

“These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead,” Trump said referring to Assad and his suspected role in the chemical weapons attacks.

“The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,” Trump said.

The U.S. president had sharply critical words for both Russia and Iran, which have backed Assad’s government.

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

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she had authorized British armed forces “to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability.”

The military action is not about intervening in Syria’s civil war or changing its government, she said.

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BEIRUT (Reuters) — A Reuters witness heard a series of loud blasts in the Syrian capital Damascus early on Saturday as the United States announced it had carried out airstrikes along with France and Britain.

The witness said smoke could also be seen rising in the eastern side of the city.

(Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

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DAMASCUS (Reuters) - At least six loud explosions were heard in Damascus on Saturday and smoke was seen rising over the Syrian capital, a Reuters witness said.

Syrian state TV said the army’s air defenses were confronting an attack by the United States, France and Britain.

A second witness said the Barzah district of Damascus had been hit in the strikes. Barzah is the location of a major Syrian scientific research center

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is using Tomahawk cruise missiles in its strikes in Syria, and taking aim at multiple targets in the country, a U.S. official told Reuters on Friday, without disclosing whether U.S. aircraft were also involved in strikes.

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