The UK and US said they bombed a chemical weapons facility near Homs in Syria in overnight airborne attacks in the face of Russian premier Vladimir Putin’s threats to shoot down any incoming missiles. The EU backed the strikes.
“Strikes by US, France and UK make it clear that Syrian regime together with Russia & Iran cannot continue this human tragedy, at least not without cost. The EU will stand with our allies on the side of justice,” said EU President Donald Tusk.
The Allies said they had informed Russia prior to the attacks, and in what appears to be a conciliatory approach, Putin said the situation was chaotic and he hoped for common sense to prevail. The missile attacks carried out from Akrotiri Airbase on Limassol’s coast were targeted and limited, said British PM Theresa May.
It is the latest development in a seven-year civil war that has killed almost half a million people and displaced close to four million Syrian citizens. A recent truce brokered and guaranteed by Russia and Turkey has once again degenerated into all-out war on civilians. The Allies’ latest attack on Syria was triggered by reports of chemical weapons used by government forces on civilians in Douma. The reports have not yet been confirmed by the UN, which sent chemical weapons inspection teams to Syria a few days ago. Nonetheless, whether the chemical weapons attacks happened or not, the OCHR have confirmed another 700,000 people displaced due to fighting since the beginning of the year. The human cost keeps rising, instead of falling under Russia and Turkey’s guarantorship of the peace process.
There are fears that a counter-strike will be launched on Akrotiri from Syria, which is a few hundred miles away from the island, but this is unlikely given the close relationship between Cyprus and Russia. The Cyprus Civil Aviation Authority said that the airstrikes on Syria have not affected normal operations in the island’s airspace.
More updates as we get them.