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The Latest: UN council rejects Russia resolution on Syria

By: The Associated Press
April 14, 2018 Updated: April 14, 2018 at 11:58 am
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Caption +
Damascus skies erupt with surface to air missile fire as the U.S. launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, Syria, early Saturday, April 14, 2018. Syria's capital has been rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke as U.S. President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country's alleged use of chemical weapons. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

WASHINGTON — The Latest on U.S.-led missile strikes on Syria (all times local):

1:40 p.m.

The U.N. Security Council has rejected a Russian resolution calling for condemnation of the "aggression" by the United States and its allies against Syria.

Only three countries — Russia, China and Bolivia — voted in favor of the resolution at the end of an emergency meeting of the 15-member council called by Russia on Saturday. Eight countries voted against and three abstained.

A resolution needs at least 9 "yes" votes to be approved.

The vote reflected the deep divisions in the U.N.'s most powerful body, which has been paralyzed in dealing with the seven-year Syrian conflict and chemical weapons use in the country.

The U.S., Britain and France say they launched airstrikes against Syrian chemical sites after obtaining "proof" that poisonous gas was used last weekend in Douma. Russia and Syria call the attack fabricated.

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1:30 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says the joint military operation by the U.S., Britain and France on Syrian targets has achieved its goals.

Macron's office said in a statement that the French leader talked separately with President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday after the strikes had ended.

The strikes were a response to Syrian President Bashar Assad's government using suspected chemical weapons on its people on April 7, killing 40 civilians.

Macron says, "The operation against the chemical capabilities of the Syrian regime... has achieved its objectives.The French president "praised the excellent coordination of our forces with those of our British and American allies" during the military strikes.

He says the U.N. Security Council must now work together to help the people of Syria.

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1:20 p.m.

Israel's premier is lauding the American-led strikes against Syria as proof of its commitment to halt the use of chemical weapons.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Saturday that the joint American-British-French operation showed they would not be satisfied with statements alone. Netanyahu warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that his efforts to acquire "weapons of mass destruction" and his allowing Iran to establish itself in Syria threaten his country.

Israel has issued several stern warnings of late about Iran's increased involvement along its border in Syria and Lebanon. Netanyahu has been a strong supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump and complemented his "resolve" in countering the threat.

The airstrikes carried out early Saturday in Syria were in response to a suspected chemical attack against civilians last weekend that killed more than 40 people.

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1:15 p.m.

U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria have prompted senior Mormon church officials to change their travel plans as they continue a world tour.

A spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Saturday that a delegation led by church President Russell M. Nelson left Jerusalem ahead of schedule over "concerns pertaining to tension in the region and available airspace."

The airstrikes were launched early Saturday in Syria.

Spokesman Doug Anderson says the 93-year-old Nelson, apostle Jeffrey R. Holland and their wives are "cognizant of the conditions in neighboring Syria."

According to Anderson, the delegation is beginning the Africa portion of its trip sooner than planned.

The tour began in London. Other planned stops include Nairobi, Kenya; Harare, Zimbabwe; Bengaluru, India; Bangkok; Hong Kong; and Honolulu

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12:50 p.m.

The Arab League's chief has expressed regret and alarm at the latest developments in Syria following the launch of joint U.S., British, and French airstrikes to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for a suspected chemical attack against civilians in the town outside Damascus.

Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit told reporters on Saturday that all parties involved in the crisis, primarily the Syrian government, are responsible for the deterioration of the situation. He says the prohibited use of chemical weapons against civilians "shouldn't be accepted or tolerated."

He also says the issue requires a sustainable political solution for the Syrian crisis.

Aboul-Gheit spoke from the city of Dammam in Saudi Arabia, where an Arab League summit is to take place Sunday.

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12:45 p.m.

A former officer in Syria's chemical program says the joint U.S., British, and French strikes in response to an suspected chemical attack in a Damascus suburb hit "parts of but not the heart" of the program.

Adulsalam Abdulrazek said Saturday that the joint strikes were unlikely to curb the government's ability to produce or launch new attacks.

Speaking from rebel-held northern Syria, Abdulrazek told The Associated Press there were an estimated 50 warehouses around Syria that stored chemical weapons before the program was dismantled in 2013. He says he believes those fixed storage facilities remain intact or were only slightly moved around.

He says Syria's chemical weapons program was only partially dismantled because Damascus didn't allow inspections of existing stockpiles and capabilities.

___

12:40 p.m.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says Russia's obstruction course at the U.N. Security Council left NATO's U.S, British and French allies no option but to launch a missile attack on key Syrian installations.

Stoltenberg said after a debriefing of NATO ambassadors by the three allies Saturday that "before the attack took place last night, NATO allies exhausted all other possible ways to address this issue to the UNSC by diplomatic and political means."

He added, "But since this was blocked by Russia, there was no other alternative."

Stoltenberg says, "I am not saying that the attacks last night solved all problems but compared to the alternative to do nothing this was the right thing to do."

A U.S.-led airstrike campaign against Syria was in response to a suspected chemical attack against civilians last weekend.

___

12:35 p.m.

Russia is demanding a vote on a U.N. resolution that would condemn "the aggression" against Syria by the United States and its allies.

The resolution is certain to be defeated in the U.N. Security Council when it is put to a vote later Saturday at the end of an emergency meeting called by Russia following airstrikes by the U.S., U.K. and France in Syria against chemical sites.

The short draft resolution calls the "aggression" a violation of international law and the U.N. charter.

It demands that military action stop "immediately and without delay."

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council that the U.S. and its allies struck without waiting for an investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, calling the attack "hooliganism."

___

12:30 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S.-led airstrikes on Syria "degraded and crippled" the country's chemical weapons capability.

Pence told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of a summit in Peru on Saturday that President Donald Trump "made it clear to the world" that the United States "will not tolerate these chemical weapons."

And he says the U.S. is "prepared to sustain this effort if necessary."

Pence is filling in for Trump at the Summit of the Americas in Lima.

Pence says he's hopeful that Russia and Iran will "once and for all abandon chemical weapons" against innocent civilians.

Trudeau has called the airstrikes "unfortunate but necessary."

The airstrikes that hit Syria earlier Saturday were in response to a suspected chemical attack against civilians last weekend.

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12:25 p.m.

NATO says all 29 of its members in the alliance back the airstrikes on Syria as a consequence of the country conducting a suspected chemical attack against its civilians last weekend.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the strikes early Saturday by the U.S., United Kingdom and France were about making sure that chemical weapons cannot be used with impunity. He noted that the three allies said it was "a very successful action" that significantly degraded the abilities of Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces to launch chemical attacks soon again.

On April 7, more than 40 civilians were killed in a suspected chemical attack in Douma outside Damascus. Syria has denied responsibility, but the U.S., France and Britain have said there is no doubt the Assad government was responsible.

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12:15 p.m.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says President Donald Trump told her if the Syrian regime uses poisonous gas again, "the United States is locked and loaded" to strike again.

Nikki Haley relayed the message from Trump at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Saturday. She says, "When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line."

Haley says the message from the U.S., U.K. and French airstrikes earlier Saturday that "crippled Syria's chemical weapons program" was "crystal clear."

She says, "The United States of America will not allow the Assad regime to continue using chemical weapons."

Haley accused Russia of defending Syrian President Bashar Assad and failing to ensure that Syria's chemical weapons were destroyed as the Assad regime had pledged in 2013.

___

Noon

French Defense Minister Florence Parly says that the joint military strikes by the U.S., Britain and France on Syrian targets was a success and that the mission's goals have been achieved.

Parly spoke Saturday at a news conference following a defense council meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and other officials. She says, "Syria's ability to design, produce and stockpile chemical weapons has been greatly diminished."

Parly says, "The mission is a success. Its military objectives are achieved."

The joint military strikes were intended as a punishment for Syrian President Bashar Assad for a suspected chemical attack against civilians in the town of Douma outside Damascus last week. Opposition leaders and rescuers say more than 40 people, including many women and children, died in the suspected chemical attack.

___

11:25 a.m.

Turkey's president says the airstrikes on Syrian targets in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack were "correct" and showed the Syrian regime that such actions would not go "unanswered."

Speaking Saturday in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his support of the joint American, British and French military operation but said more must be done to hold the Syrian regime accountable for the hundreds of thousands killed using conventional weapons.

He says, "The people martyred by chemicals is a certain amount, but the people martyred by conventional weapons is much, much more."

Erdogan called the days leading up to the airstrikes a "showdown" led by America and Russia. He says he pushed for a peaceful end to the tension in a conversation with British Prime Minister Theresa May earlier Saturday.

___

10:10 a.m.

The Pentagon says a Russian "disinformation campaign" has already begun over the U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria.

Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Saturday that "there has been a 2,000 percent increase in Russian trolls in the past 24 hours."

The U.S., Britain and France said they launched Saturday's strike to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for a suspected chemical attack against civilians in the town of Douma outside Damascus. Opposition leaders and rescuers say more than 40 people, including many women and children, died in the suspected chemical attack.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says the attack was an attempt to derail an investigation into a purported chemical attack. The Foreign Ministry says facts presented by Russian investigators indicated that the purported attack was a "premeditated and cynical sham."

___

10 a.m.

The Pentagon is backing President Donald Trump's assertion that the missile strikes on Syria were "Mission Accomplished!"

Trump used the haunting political phrase "Mission Accomplished!" in a tweet Saturday morning to praise the "perfectly executed strike" against Syria. President George W. Bush famously spoke under a "Mission Accomplished" banner in 2003 when he declared that major combat operations in Iraq were over, but the war dragged on for years.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White says, "It was mission accomplished."

However, one of the stated goals of the strikes was to deter Syrian President Bashar Assad's government from using chemical weapons again. It is too soon to know if that will be the case.

White says the strikes "were very successful. We met our objectives. We hit the sites."

___

9:50 a.m.

The Pentagon says they believe the airstrikes "attacked the heart of the Syrian chemical weapons program."

Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, says the U.S.-led airstrikes against Syria has been "a very serious blow."

The U.S., France and Britain launched military strikes on Saturday morning in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad (bah-SHAR' AH'-sahd) for an apparent chemical attack against civilians last week and to deter him from doing it again.

Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White says the target choices were "very methodical," calling it a "deliberate decision" to go after chemical weapons facilities. She says the U.S. was confident that they had "significantly degraded his ability to use chemical weapons ever again."

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9:30 a.m.

The Pentagon says none of the missiles filed by the U.S. and its allies was deflected by Syrian air defenses, rebutting claims by the Russian and Syrian governments.

Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, says: "None of our aircraft or missiles involved in this operation were successfully engaged by Syrian air defenses." He says there also is no indication that Russian air defense systems were employed early Saturday in Syria.

The Russian military had previously said Syria's Soviet-made air defense systems downed 71 out of 103 cruise missiles launched by the United States and its allies.

McKenzie says 105 weapons were launched against three targets in Syria.

Characterizing the strike as a success, McKenzie says, "As of right now we're not aware of any civilian casualties."

___

9:20 a.m.

The Pentagon says the U.S.-led airstrikes on Syria "successfully hit every target."

Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Saturday that the strikes were launched to "cripple Syria's ability to use chemical weapons in the future."

The U.S., France and Britain launched military strikes in Syria on Friday night to punish President Bashar Assad (bah-SHAR' AH'-sahd) for an apparent chemical attack against civilians last week and to deter him from doing it again.

White says the strikes do not "represent a change in U.S. policy or an attempt to depose the Syrian regime." But she says, "We cannot allow such grievous violations of international law."

She also called on Russia to "honor its commitment" to ensure the Assad regime gives up chemical weapons.

___

9 a.m.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says the U.S. and its allies launched strikes on Syria to derail an investigation into a purported chemical attack.

The U.S., Britain and France said they launched Saturday's strike to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for an alleged chemical attack against civilians in the town of Douma outside Damascus.

The Foreign Ministry said that facts presented by Russian investigators indicated the purported attack was a "premeditated and cynical sham."

The ministry noted that the strikes were launched on Saturday as a team of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was to visit Douma. It added that "we have every reason to believe that the attack on Syria was intended to hamper the work of the OPCW inspectors."

___

8:45 a.m.

Trump US Syria
President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on Friday, April 13, 2018, in Washington, about the United States' military response to Syria's chemical weapon attack on April 7. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) 

President Donald Trump is using a haunting political phrase "Mission Accomplished" in the aftermath of the U.S.-led airstrikes against Syria.

Back in 2003, then-President George W. Bush spoke under a "Mission Accomplished" banner when he went aboard an aircraft carrier in California to declare that major combat operations in Iraq were over — just six weeks after the invasion.

But the war dragged on for many years after that, and Bush was heavily criticized for his statement.

Trump is tweeting about what he calls "a perfectly executed strike" against Syria. And he's thanking allies France and Britain "for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!"

___

8:30 a.m.

A U.N. Security Council diplomat says the council will meet later Saturday at Russia's request, following the U.S.-led airstrikes on Syria.

Moscow has denounced the attack on its ally by the U.S., Britain and France. Russian President Vladimir Putin calls it an "act of aggression" that will only worsen the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

The Security Council held emergency meetings this past week on the suspected poison gas attack last weekend in the rebel-controlled Damascus suburb of Douma.

President Donald Trump and his British and French allies say the airstrikes were necessary to deter Syria's use of chemical weapons. Russia insists there's no evidence that chemical weapons were used.

A fact-finding team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is in Syria to investigate.

___

7:10 a.m.

A global chemical warfare watchdog group says its fact-finding mission to Syria will go ahead even after the U.S.-led airstrikes.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says in a statement that its team will stick to its plan to investigate last weekend's suspected poison gas attack in Douma.

The group says the mission "will continue its deployment to the Syrian Arab Republic to establish facts around the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma."

Russia and Syria disagree with Western allies that gas was used by Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces to suppress opposition close to Damascus in an April 7 attack.

___

7:05 a.m.

Iranian officials have made calls to Syrian leaders in the wake of the U.S.-led airstrikes against Syrian targets.

Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani (hah-SAHN' roh-HAH'-nee), tells Syria's Bashar Assad (bah-SHAR' AH'-sahd) that America's goal is to justify its continued presence in the region.

That description of their conversation comes from Syrian and Iranian state news agencies.

Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has spoken with his Syrian counterpart, too. Zarif says the U.S. is using allegations of chemical weapons to justify attacking Syria before inspectors from a chemical weapons watchdog agency begin their work.

___

5:50 a.m.

Iran US Syria
In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks at a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, April 14, 2018. Khamenei said that the U.S.-led attack on Syria is a "crime" and said the countries behind it will gain nothing. The Iranian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the strikes and warned of unspecified consequences. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP) 

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency says Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (hah-meh-neh-EE') has called the U.S.-led airstrikes on Syria a "military crime."

He spoke at a meeting with Iranian officials and ambassadors from some Islamic countries.

The report quotes Khamenei as calling the leaders of the United States, Britain and France — the countries that launched the attack — "criminals."

The allies' operation was intended to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians and to deter him from doing it again.

___

5:45 a.m.

NATO representatives are planning a special session to hear from U.S., British and French officials about their military strike against Syria.

The alliance briefing is expected later Saturday, and NATO's secretary-general has expressed strong support for the coordinated military action aimed at the Syrian governor's chemical weapons program.

Jens Stoltenberg says the missile strikes will erode the Syrian government's "ability to further attack the people of Syria with chemical weapons."

___

5:40 a.m.

Britain Syria
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during a press conference at 10 Downing Street in London on the air strikes against Syria, Saturday April 14, 2018. (Simon Dawson/Pool photo via AP) 

The leader of Britain's largest opposition party is suggesting Prime Minister Theresa May could face a backlash in Parliament for her decision to join the United States and France in launching airstrikes against Syria.

The Labour Party's Jeremy Corbyn says the allies' bombing is "legally questionable" and risks further escalating "an already devastating conflict."

Corbyn says "May should have sought parliamentary approval, not trailed after Donald Trump."

The prime minister will appear before the House of Commons on Monday to explain her decision on joining the airstrikes

Corbyn says the strikes will make assigning blame for the use of chemical weapons in Syria "less, not more likely." He says Britain should be leading the response and "not taking instructions from Washington and putting British military personnel in harm's way."

___

5:30 a.m.

Syrian state TV has broadcast images of the destruction at a scientific research center near the capital of Damascus that was targeted in airstrikes by the United States, France and Britain.

Pentagon officials say the attacks targeted the heart of Syrian President Bashar Assad's (bah-SHAR' AH'-sahds) programs to develop and produce chemical weapons.

The Syrian military says more than one 100 missiles were fired against a military base in Syria's central Homs province and the research center in Barzeh, near Damascus.

The images shown on Al-Ikhbariya TV are the first of one of the targets. Seen in the footage are piles of rubble outside a destroyed building and a burned vehicle.

The Syrian military says the attack on the center destroyed an educational center and labs.

___

5:20 a.m.

France Syria Airstrikes
In his image taken Friday, April 13, 2018 and released by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) on Saturday, April 14, 2018, a Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft is prepared for airstrikes in Syria at Saint Dizier airbase, eastern France. A Syrian military statement says the U.S., Britain and France fired 110 missiles during a joint attack on targets in Damascus and outside. (French Defense Ministry/ECPAD via AP) THIS IMAGE MAY ONLY BE USED FOR 30 DAYS FROM TIME TRANSMISSION. 

France's foreign minister is threatening further missile strikes against Syria if the Syrian government uses chemical weapons again.

France joined the United States and Britain in a joint operation that has destroyed what Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says is a "good part" of the Syrian government's chemical weapons arsenal.

He says France has "no doubt" that the Syrian government was behind a suspected chemical attacks last weekend. Syria denies responsibility.

Le Drian tells BFM television that the goal for the allied mission "was attained" but that if France's "red line is crossed again" there could be another attack.

___

4:55 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says the need to act quickly and protect what she calls "operational security" led her to decide to join the allied strikes in Syria without a prior vote in Parliament.

She says she'll make a statement in Parliament on Monday explaining her actions. A spirited debate is expected.

The United States, France and Britain have launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad (bah-SHAR' AH'-sahd) for an apparent chemical attack against civilians last week and to deter him from doing it again.

May has come under criticism from some British lawmakers for not bringing back Parliament into session before taking action against Syria,

___

4:45 a.m.

The European Union Commission's president says those who rely on chemical warfare must be held to account by the world.

Jean-Claude Juncker says the suspected use of poison gas last week in the Syrian city of Douma was — as he puts it — a "heinous chemical weapons attack carried out by the Syrian regime."

Juncker says the world "has the responsibility to identify and hold accountable those responsible" for that kind of attack.

___

4:40 a.m.

Germany's chancellor says the allied strikes in Syria were — in her words — a "necessary and appropriate" response to what the U.S. and its allies say was a recent chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma.

Angela Merkel (AHN'-geh-lah MEHR'-kuhl) says Berlin says the U.S., Britain and France "took responsibility in this way as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council."

Merkel says the strikes were needed "to maintain the effectiveness of the international rejection of chemical weapons use and to warn the Syrian regime against further violations."

Merkel had said earlier this week that Germany wouldn't join allied military action against Syrian government forces.

___

4:35 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is citing reports she says indicate the Syrian government used a barrel bomb to deliver the chemicals used in an attack on Douma.

Barrel bombs are large containers that are packed with fuel, explosives and scraps of metal.

May says the accounts about the use of a barrel bomb suggest that a Syrian government helicopter was seen flying above Douma just before last weekend's attack.

She says "no other group" could have carried out that attack.

___

4:30 a.m.

France's government says it has no samples of the chemical weapons it believes were used in Syria, but launched a military response based on open-source information and intelligence gathering.

France has released its assessment of what happened in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7. It was the basis for France's involvement in a joint military operation with the U.S. and Britain to target Syrian chemical weapons facilities.

The assessment cites "the absence to date of chemical samples analyzed by our own laboratories." It says the government evaluated publicly available information from nongovernmental organizations and other sources as well as unspecified French intelligence.

It concludes that there is "no plausible scenario other than that of an attack by Syrian armed forces." Syria denies responsibility and says it gave up its chemical arsenal.

The assessment notes eight chlorine attacks ahead of the "major attack" on Douma and 44 allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria over the past year.

___

4:20 a.m.

The Russian military says Syria's Soviet-made air defense systems have downed 71 out of 103 cruise missiles launched by the United States and its allies.

Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military's General Staff says Saturday's strike hasn't caused any casualties and Syrian military facilities targeted by the U.S., Britain and France have suffered only minor damage.

He says the Russian air defense assets in Syria monitored the strike but didn't engage any of the missiles.

Rudskoi says the Syrian military used Soviet-made air defense missile systems with high efficiency, shooting down all of the missiles aimed at four key Syrian air bases.

He notes that Russia in the past refrained from providing Syria with its state-of-the-art S-300 air defense missile systems on Western prodding but could reconsider it now.

___

4 a.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced a strike on Syria launched by the United States and its allies as an "act of aggression" that will exacerbate humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.

In a statement issued by the Kremlin, the Russian leader says Moscow is calling an emergency meeting of the United Nations' Security Council over the strike launched by the U.S., Britain and France.

Putin added that the strike had a "destructive influence on the entire system of international relations."

He reaffirmed Russia's view that a purported chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma that prompted the strike was a fake. Putin added that Russian military experts who inspected Douma found no trace of the attack. He criticized the U.S. and its allies for launching the strike without waiting for inspectors from the international chemical weapons watchdog to visit the area.

___

3:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump says the United States, France and Britain have launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians and to deter him from doing it again.

Syrians crowded onto the streets in noisy demonstrations of defiance afterward and their ally Russia denounced the attack.

Pentagon officials say the attacks targeted the heart of Assad's programs to develop and produce chemical weapons.

Syrian television reports that Syria's air defenses responded to the attack.

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis says there are no reports of U.S. losses in what he describes as a heavy but carefully limited assault.

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