Syria latest: Trump orders air strikes against Assad regime – live updates

President orders armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with chemical weapons in the wake of gas attack on Douma

2.55am BST

We have a wrap of what we know so far, by Julian Borger, our world affairs editor, here.

Related: Syria air strikes: US, UK and France launch attack on Assad regime

2.53am BST

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader has issued a strong rebuke of Trump for his actions, saying” “One night of airstrikes is not a substitute for a clear, comprehensive Syria strategy.”

She said the the president must come to Congress and secure authorisation for use of military force, while also holding “Putin accountable for his enabling of the Assad regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people.”

2.48am BST

#breaking #Damascus , scientific research facility accused of being a Chemical facility

2.46am BST

Further explosions are being heard in Damascus. CNN is quoting a senior administration official saying “this isn’t over” and that tonight is just the first wave of a “multi-wave” attack.

2.42am BST

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says several military bases have also been hit. It says the Republican Guard headquarters and the army’s 4th division were targeted.

2.39am BST

Some more detail on the situation in Damascus. A Reuters witness has said at least six loud explosions were heard in the city and smoke was seen rising. Syrian state TV has said the army’s air defences 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 centre.

2.37am BST

Worth noting that staff from the UN’s Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were due to visit Damascus on Saturday to determine whether chemical weapons were used in Douma on 7 April.

2.34am BST

Trump’s decision comes on a day of rapid developments:

2.31am BST

The US is using Tomahawk cruise missiles in its strikes in Syria, and taking aim at multiple targets in the country, a US official has told Reuters. This would tally with CNN reports that ships and aircraft form part of the attack.

2.28am BST

Syrian state TV says anti-aircraft weapons are being used against jets conducting air strikes. A district in Damascus, Barzeh, which houses a scientific laboratory, has been hit, according to one Reuters witness.

2.24am BST

May echoes Trump’s sentiments in saying that the strike is targeted and is not intended as heralding an open-ended military presence.

She continues the pressure on Russia, whom the UK separately accuses of poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, saying: “While this action is specifically about deterring the Syrian regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity.”

2.21am BST

She criticises Russia for playing a role in closing off alternatives to military action, referring to a veto by Moscow of a UN security council resolution on investigating the attack in Douma. She says “There is no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.”

2.19am BST

May says the fact that the chemical attack happened “should surprise no one” given the regime’s history.

She adds:

This persistent pattern of behaviour must be stopped – not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and casualties caused by chemical weapons but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of these weapons. We have sought to use every possible diplomatic channel to achieve this.

2.17am BST

The British prime minister, moments after Trump finished speaking.

This evening I have authorised British armed forces to conduct co-ordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use. We are acting together with our American and French allies. In Douma, last Saturday a chemical weapons attack killed up to 75 people, including young children, in circumstances of pure horror.

2.14am BST

Reuters says witnesses in Damascus have heard several large explosions and seen smoke on the east side of the city. Douma lies to the north-east. It is unclear if these are related to the US president’s announcement.

2.12am BST

Donald Trump has finished speaking now. A Pentagon briefing, presumably shedding light on the targets, will follow in 50 minutes. Stay with us as we make sense of what has happened and will happen.

2.10am BST

A little flair is entering his statement now: Trump refers to the “righteous power” of the US, UK and France in acting in the region. He urges Americans to say a prayer. He finishes with: “We pray that god will bring comfort to the suffering and guide the whole region.”

2.09am BST

“The US will be a partner and a friend but the fate of the region lies in the hands of its own people.”

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“America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria. We look forward to the day when we can bring our warriors home.”

2.07am BST

Trump delivers a message to those associated with the Assad regime in Syria. “What kind of nation wants to be associated with mass murder of innocent men women and children?” he asks.

2.06am BST

The US president says “the evil and despicable attack left mothers and fathers, women and children thrashing in pain”. He says “they are crimes of a monster”.

2.04am BST

A combined US, British and French military response is under way.

2.03am BST

The president says he has ordered armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with chemical weapons capabilities

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Trump is on stage

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While we await an announcement, relations between the west and Russia have deteriorated sharply amid concerns about a US reprisal in the Middle East after the attack in which at least 45 people were killed and hundreds more were affected.

The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, declared on Friday “the cold war is back with a vengeance”.

1.56am BST

Hello and welcome. The White House press corps has been called to gather for an announcement by the US president at 9pm Washington time. He is expected to announce the US response to the chemical attack by the Syrian regime in the Damascus suburb of Douma a week ago.

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Author : Graham Russell

Publish date : 14 April 2018 | 1:55 am

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