Airstrike on Syrian town hit by chemical weapons kills 1
BEIRUT — Warplanes struck a northern Syrian town Saturday where a chemical attack killed scores of people earlier this week, killing one person and wounding another as Turkey described the U.S. missile attack on an air base as a “cosmetic intervention” unless it removes President Bashar Assad from power.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrike on the eastern side of Khan Sheikhoun killed a woman, marking the first death in the town since Tuesday’s chemical attack that killed 87.
The Local Coordination Committees, another monitoring group, said the airstrike was carried out by Russian warplane. It said the woman killed had fled to the town from her hometown of Latameh in central Syria.
The chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday triggered a U.S. missile attack two days later that struck a Syrian air base in central Syria killing nine people.
Syria’s government denied it carried out any chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun, and Russia’s Defense Ministry said the toxic agents were released when a Syrian airstrike hit a rebel chemical weapons arsenal and munitions factory on the town’s eastern outskirts.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara sees the U.S. intervention in Syria as appropriate but not enough.
“If this intervention is limited only to an air base, if it does not continue and if we don’t remove the regime from heading Syria, then this would remain a cosmetic intervention,” said Cavusoglu in the southern city of Antalya.
Cavusoglu, whose country is a strong backer of the Syrian opposition, said the most ideal process will be a political solution that leads to a transitional government accepted by all Syrians as soon as possible. He said that for that “this oppressive Assad needs to go.”
Cavusoglu said after the transitional government takes over, it will be followed with elections in which Syrians in the country and abroad can vote.
In Saudi Arabia, the official Saudi Press Agency reported that U.S. President Donald Trump has spoken by telephone with King Salman about the U.S. missile strike on Syria.
The news agency reported that during the Friday phone call, the Saudi monarch congratulated Trump for his “courageous decision.”
Saudi Arabia said the missile launch by Trump was the right response to “the crimes of this regime to its people in light of the failure of the international community to stop it.”
The kingdom is among the most vehement opponents of Assad and supports Sunni rebel groups fighting to oust him. The Sunni rulers of Saudi Arabia are in a power struggle for regional dominance with Iran’s Shiite government and view Tehran’s support of Assad as a threat to the region.