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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  April 14, 2018 1:00am-2:01am PDT

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here on the here on the east coast, it is saturdays, just after 12:00 midnight. we continue after covering the fits and starts and turns of another day in the trump administration and politics. our time and attention have been focused, instead this evening, starting at 9:00 eastern time with the president's remarks on a u.s., french and british, combined military strike. so far, all we know of the stand off variety, fired from someplace other than directly above the target in a place like syria, but nonetheless, a kind
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of triple strike by three different nations on three different locations in syria. the stated goal, the mission tonight, was to degrate syria's ability to deploy chemical weapons again. as we said, the president, in effect, made the announcement. 9:00, there were early indications something could be afoot. we have heard within the last two hours from briefers at the pentagon. they were the chairman of the joint chiefs and the secretary of defense. our own courtney, our military reporter is on duty there with what is known about tonight's strike. tell the story from the top, as we know it. >> you are right, brian, the strikes were from u.s. stand off weapons. we know they were both manned aircraft and missiles fired from
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u.s. navy ships in the mediterranean and you mentioned, you know, this is an attack on the syrian regime chemical infrastructure. there were three targets, one was a chemical weapons storage facility, one a research and development facility, syrian regime, so syrian military and a commanding control facility that was strike. that means syrian military as well. we don't know a lot, yet, about the very specifics of how many weapons were fired or anything, but secretary mattis gave us a hint when he said there were twice as many weapons expended as the april 2017 attack. of course, that included 59 tomahawk missiles fired. we can assume there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 or so fired in this. we don't know what the british and french military component
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was. we are starting to hear more from those capitals. there were two military people with secretary mattis, but they didn't want to get ahead of their bosses, probably smart for their military careers. we also know president trump talked about this being a sustained campaign. secretary mattis and dunnford said this was a wave of air strikes and is now concluded. secretary mattis said, when asked what did president trump mean when he said this is sustained? if the syrian regime uses chemical weapons again, the u.s. will respond again. president trump spoke about economic and diplomatic actions, which we have not yet seen. that may be part of the sustained campaign. that will, of course, unfold in the coming days, brian. >> courtney, we did hear from the brits that they used tornado
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aircraft and fired missiles of their own, presumably from ships they had moved into the area. we have that. we'll know much more tomorrow morning. courtney talked about the, let's call it difference in language between the president's remarks and defense secretary mattis, especially the notion that tonight was the first part of a more sustained campaign. so, we want to show you at least a portion of president trump's remarks tonight to a national audience at 1:30 after the 9:00 p.m. hour eastern time when he appeared to announce this military operation. >> the purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the use of chemical weapons. establishing this deterrent is a
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vital, national security interest of the united states. the combined american, british and french response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power, military, economic and diplomatic. we are prepared to sustain this response until the syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents. >> again, just a portion of the president's remarks. covering the white house tonight for us, kristen welker. she has been there all through the shift. when we talked earlier, this is vaguely interesting background color, especially since military operations beyond what the president has said on twitter should not be foreshadowed because of who's listening and the risk to american lives but
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there was certainly an effort at the white house to say, tonight, we are leaving for dinner, nothing to see here. there's going to be no more news because in situations like this, that's what they have to do and what they have to say. >> reporter: that's right. one white house official indicating, look, it was a matter of the security of the military officials who would be carrying out these attacks, brian. you are absolutely right. typically, when the president is going to make an announcement, there's activity at the white house. a number of top officials indicat indicated they were going home and the announcement we learned about a few moments before it was going happen, underscoring the significance of the announcement. the fact i spoke to one white house official, why now and why the response we saw? of course you heard mattis say twice the number of weapons were used in this attack compared to the attack last year from the
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united states in syria in the wake of a chemical weapons attack. look, the president thought syria crossed a red line last year. they clearly did not get the message, so it was significant for this president to launch an attack that sent a message to try to dissuade assad from ever doing this again. that is why it was important for this administration to get the support of allies. the britains, the uk and the french. he's been coordinating with them throughout the week. it's important to note, brian, there's been a very robust debate about how forceful this strike would be. president trump was pressing for a very aggressive response and defense secretary, james mattis was concerned it could embroil the u.s. in a broader engagement with iran and russia. worth noting, the president had firm words for iran and russia,
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some of the strongest words we have heard against russia. it comes against the backdrop of the russia probe. that was significant. russia warned they would shoot u.s. missiles out of the air. by all accounts, that has not happened. the president was clear he would be undeterred in that. hello, i'm dara brown. in response to last week's chemical weapons attack by syria in rebel held area. british prime minister theresa may is delivering her first remarks, let's listen. >> storm shadow military at a military facility 15 miles west of homs. in breach of syria's obligations under the chemical weapons convention. while the full assessment of the strike is ongoing, we are confident of its success. let me set out why we have taken
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this action. last saturday, up to 75 people, including young children were killed in a despicable and barbaric attack in duma with 500 casualties. we have worked with allies to establish what happened and all the indications are this was a chemical weapons attack. we have seen the harrowing images of men, women and children lying dead with foam in their mouths. these were innocent families who, at the time this chemical weapon was unleashed, was seeking shelter underground in basements. firsthand a"countdown"s from aide workers details the most horrific suffering, burns to the eyes, suffocation and skin discoloration with a chlorine
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odor surrounding the victims. the world health organization received reports hundreds of patients arrived at health facilities with signs and symptoms consistent to exposure to toxic chemicals. we are clear about who is responsible for this atrocity. a significant body of information, including intelligence indicates the syrian regime is responsible for the latest attack. i cannot tell you everything, but let me give an example of some of the evidence that leads us to this conclusion. open source accounts allege a barrel bomb was used to deliver the chemicals. multiple open source reports claim the regime helicopter was observed above the city on the evening of the 7th of april. the opposition does not operate helicopters or use barrel bombs.
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reliable intelligence shows military officials coordinated what appears to be the use of chlorine on the 7th of april. no other group could have carried out the attack. the fact of this attack should surprise no one. we know that the syrian regime has an utterly abhorrent record of using chemical weapons against its own people. on the 21st of august, 2013, over 800 people were killed and thousands more injured in a chemical attack, also in ghouta. there were 14 smaller scale attacks prior to that summer. on the 4th of april last year, the syrian regime used sarin against its people and based on the regime's persistent pattern of behavior and the cumulative
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analysis of incidents, we judge it highly likely they have continued to use chemical weapons since then and will continue to do so. this must be stopped. we have sought to do so using every possible diplomatic channel. our efforts have been thwarted on the ground and the united nations. back in august, 2013, the syrian regime committed to dismantle the chemical weapon program and russia promised to ensure that syria did this, overseen by the organization of prohibition of chemical weapons. these conditions have not been met. a recent report from the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons said that syria's declaration of the former weapons program is incomplete. this indicates it continues to retain undeclared stocks of
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nerve agents and is likely to continue with chemical weapons production. the opcw inspectors investigated previous attacks and decided the regime was responsible. on each occasion, when we have seen every sign of chemical weapons used, any attempt to hold the perpetrators to account has been blocked by russia at the u.n. security council with six such vetoes since the start of 2017. just this week, the russians vetoed a draft resolution to establish an independent investigation into the latest attack making the grotesque and absurd claim it was staged. we have no choice but to conclude the diplomatic action on its own will not be more effective in the future than it has been in the past. over the last week, the uk
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government has been working intensively with our international partners to build the evidence picture and to kor what actions we need to take to prevent and deter future humanitarian catastrophes caused by chemical weapons attacks. when the cabinet met on thursday, we considered the advice of the attorney general, the national security adviser and chief of the staff. we were updated on the latest assessment and intelligence picture and based on this advice, we agree it was both right and legal to take military action together with our closest allies to alleviate further humanitarian suffering by degrading the weapons capability and deterring their use. this was not about interfering in a civil war and it was not about regime change. as i discussed with president trump and president trump macron, it was a limited, targeted and effective strike
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with clear boundaries that sougt to avoid escalation and everything possible to prevent civilian casualties. together, we have hit a specific and limited set of targets. they were a chemical weapons storage and production facility, a key chemical weapons research center and a military bunker involved in chemical weapons attacks. hitting these targets with the force we have deployed will degrade the regimes ability to research, develop and deploy chemical weapons. a year ago after the catastrophe, the u.s. conducted a strike on the airfield where the attack took place. assad and his regime haven't stopped their use of chemical weapons. last night strikes by the u.s., uk and france was significantly larger than the u.s. action a year ago and specifically designed to have a greater impact on the regimes capability
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and willingness to use chemical weapons. this collective action sends a clear message that the international community will not stand by and tolerate the use of chemical weapons. i also want to be clear, this military action to deter the use of chemical weapons does not stand alone. we must remain committed to resolving the conflict at large. the best hope for the syrian people remains a political solution. we need all partners, especially the regime and backers to have hugh nairn access to those in need and the uk will continue to strive for both. these strikes are about deterring the barbaric use of chemical weapons in syria and beyond. and, so to achieve this, there must be a wider diplomatic effort, including the diplomatic
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levers and chemical weapons that stood for nearly a century. although a lower order of magnitude the use of a nerve agent on the streets of uk is part of disregard for the norms. while this actio is about deterring the syrian regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity. there is no graver decision for a prime minister than to commit our forces to combat. this is the first time that i have had to do so. as always, they have served our country with the greatest professionalism and bravery and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. we would have preferred an alternative path. on this occasion, there is none. we cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become
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normalized in syria, the streets of the uk or elsewhere. we must reinstate the global consensus that chemical weapons cannot be used. this action is absolutely in britain's national interest. the lesson of history is when the global rules and standards that keep us safe come under threat, we must take a stand and defend them. that is what our country has always done and that is what we will continue to do. i'll take a number of questions. we'll start with with you. >> reporter: thank you, prime minister. i'm with with bbc news. your logic is chemical attacks must not go unpunished. will you do the same again, if
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president assad does the same again, as you suggested he has? and do you feel you have the public's consent, given you have not consulted mps in parliament? >> as i said in my statement, the purpose of the action that took place last night was to degrade and deter the capability and willingness of the syrian regime to use chemical weapons. as i also said, obviously a full assessment has not, yet, been completed. we believe the action was successful. the syrian regime should be under no doubt of our resolve in relation to the use of chemical weapons. i have taken this decision because i believe it is the right thing to do. i believe it is in our national interest but i believe it is also important for the international community to be very clear about this issue. we have seen people appearing to think they can use chemical
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weapons with impunity. we must restore the position, as i said, it has existed nearly a century, the use of chemical weapons is illegal, it is banned and we cannot accept it. tim? >> thank you, prime minister. tim from the sunday times. you were hinting toward the end of the statement about possible, further, wider action against supporters of the regime. can you explain why you haven't, yet, taken action against russia the way the united states has. and we appear to be in a propaganda war with the russians. why have no ministers been out explaining what you are today? >> well, on the first point, as you will know, tim, and as i said in response to the use of nerve agent on the streets of
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suls bury, we are, of course, looking at every aspect of the action that can be taken. we do, in general, work against elicit finances in the uk and we will continue to do so. you say no minister has been out over the past week. i have given two television interviews the past week which i set out the need for action and the need for us to restore the international norm of the recognition that chemical weapons should not be used. what i said in the interviews was we were working with international partners and allies to ascertain and make the fullest asset of what is on ground and see what is necessary. we have done that in the action we saw last night into the early hours of the morning was the result of that work. adam? >> prime minister, i wonder if you could explain more your
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decision and your thinking on not seeking prior approval or debate from parliament on this decision because, as you know, jeremy corbin and on the other side, kenneth clark said they feel that should have taken place. there seems to be a feeling abroad. >> as i said, as i just said, i believe this action is necessary. i believe it was the right thing for us to do. we have been working with allies and partners over the past week to make the fullest possible assessment of what happened on the ground and consider what action was necessary and to do that in a timely fashion so that we could act with with sufficient understanding of what happened on the ground and proper planning of any action. to do so within a time scale to give a clear message to the regime. it was also important, and i
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believe it is important, as we are sending, it is one of the gravest decisions a prime minister can take, is to send our service personnel into action, into combat and when we do that, we owe it to them that we, as far as possible, protect their safety and their security through operational security reasons, it was right we acted in the way we did, properly plan this, assess what happened on the ground, properly plan it, act within a time scale that is right to protect operational security and give a clear message to the regime. robert? >> you explicitly linked the overnight actions to the poisonings in salisbury. was the overnight action just about assad or explicitly a
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warning to russia as well? the secretary general is warning the cold war is back and he is fearful we don't have the institutional structures to contain it. how do we restore a sense of calm and security? >> well, first of all, i refer to salisbury, what happened in salisbury because of the use of chemical weapons on the streets of the united kingdom. what took place last night was focused on degrading and deterring the willingness of the syrian regime to continue to use chemical weapons. as i said, there have been many instants where we saw that. it should be a message to others the international community is not going to stand by and allow chemical weapons to be used with impunity. we have, for nearly a century now, had a general understanding
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under the chemical weapons convention, the chemical weapons were illegal, their use was banned. we have, in recent times all too often seen them used. i think it's right the international community has come together and said we will not accept this and given a very clear message about reestablishing that international norm that chemical weapons are banned and should not be used. yes. >> if chemical weapons are, indeed used again in syria, will the united kingdom take part in more targeted strikes and since if it's in the coming weeks parliament will no longer be in recess, will you feel a bigger pressure to actually ask for that green light and how important is it to you that president macron is alongside
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and very much participating in this operation? how would you characterize the franco-british about this operation? >> first of all, on the parliamentary front, i apologize, i should have answered this to the previous question. i will make a statement to mar limit and give them the opportunity to question me. i believe it was right to take the action we have done and the timing we have done as i indicated in relation to assessment planning and operational security. but, it was to send a very clear message about the use of these chemical weapons. i believe the action it's taken will have integrated the capability of the syrian regime to use chemical weapons. we want to deter their willingness to use chemical weapons but no doubt our resolve and an international resolve on
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the issues to ensure we do return to the situation where it is accepted the use of chemical weapons is illegal, is banned. they should not be used. i think, obviously, this has been an operation with the united states, with france and the united kingdom. you asked specifically about the franco-british relationship. we have a close relationship in security matters, that was enhanced in the summit we had earlier this year. we have been over recent years, working closely together on the defense matters. [ inaudible question ] >> i said in relation to this, i
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will be going to parliament and we'll be making a statement in parliament. on the wider issue, i did address the wider issue. this was a limited and targeted strike that took place last night, series of strikes that took place by the three partners. nobody should be in any doubt of our resolve on this issue, to ensure that we see a return to that international norm on the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons. sorry, yes, gentleman. >> thank you. jay from the independent. the syrian civil war has seen a huge displaitment of people from the middle east toward the west. i wonder if you think your action today and further action from the west will exasperate that and cause more refugees to come to the west and tell us what extra planning and extra actions you are going to take to address that point and help the
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refugees themselves. >> you are right, as a result of what has been taking place in syria over the last few years, seven years or so, we have seen a large number of people displaced within syria and obviously a large number of refugees from syria displaced to countries in the region and further afield. of course we have been receiving a number of syrian refugees in the uk ourselves. our focus has been on support for refugees in the region with considerable support to countries that have been providing refuge for them. obviously the lebanon, jordan and turkey have been providing a refuge for them. the purpose of this action is to prevent further humanitarian suffering. nobody could have been anything but appalled at the scenes we have seen from the actions that took place. it is right that the
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international community acted to give that clear message about this use of chemical weapons. >> i'm from the guardian. prime minister, are you concerned you do not have support of the british people for the action? polling shows a fifth of people support further action in syria. and what is your message about the people who are uneasy about the action you have taken? >> as i said, i have taken this decision because i believe it is the right thing to do. i think my message to people about this is that this is about the use of chemical weapons. we have, for nearly 100 years, had a generally accepted position in the international community that chemical weapons are illegal, their use is illegal, they are banned. that has generally been accepted. we have seen that international norm being eroded. it's been eroded a number of
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ways. we have seen a nerve agent used on the streets of a city here in the united kingdom. we have seen the syrian regime continuing to use chemical weapons despite the fact that august 2013, they were dismantling their chemical weapons and russia guaranteed that was taking place. that commitment has not been met. so, i think it is important that for the alleviation of humanitarian suffering in syria but also if we stand back and look more widely, it is in all our interest to restore the prohibition of use on chemical weapons. yeah, back there. >> how much did you agonize about the decision? did it keep you awake at night? >> as i said in my statement and i have repeated since, there is no graver decision that a prime minister can take than to send
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troops, send service personnel into combat. it is a decision that i have not taken lightly. as you know, there have been a number of discussions here with the national security council and cabinet with american and french allies on this. at the end of the day, i felt it was the right thing to do precisely because we have seen this growing use of chemical weapons. i think we must say, this must stop and it is in all our interests for us to ensure the use of chemical weapons stops and in the interest of our futures to ensure it stops. you are in the front row, sorry, jay. >> reporter: toby from the observer. obviously, there's no parliamentary approval for these actions because of timing and everything else. do you intend to try to get
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parliament, as a whole, to back your strategy, which clearly you are opening the door to possible further action. do you intend to push for a vote to get parliament behind you? >> as i say, and as you have picked up in your question, it was right to take the decision for operational reasons to have the opportunity for the fullest assessment and proper planning. i believe it was the right thing to do. we will, of course, get the opportunity when parliament resits will be on monday for me to go to parliament to make a statement and hear the views of parliamentarians on this issue. i will be very clear with parliament as i have been clear this morning and have been clear with others, this is not about action to intervene in the civil war. it is not about anything to do with regime change. it is about the use of chemical
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weapons. it's a limited and targeted set of strikes that have taken place in order to degrade and deter the capability to use chemical weapons. sorry, second row here. >> thank you, prime minister. during your many statements, you talked about the victims of the duma incident. are you considering to have the victims have the care, the medical care as the same as was given to these here in this country or the west and secondly, if it emerges that the syrian regime has other chemical sites that have not been attacked, would grow after them and enlarge your coalition? >> first of all, on the first point, obviously one of the issues we have as a united
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kingdom with other national parties have concern for the ability to access and provide the support necessary to victims, those who have been suffering from the humanitarian catastrophe and use of chemical weapons, but indeed more generally in syria. we have made a number of attempts through the united nations in other ways to try to ensure proper humanitarian access to people to ensure they can be provided with the proper medical care and we will continue to push for that humanitarian access so that those who are innocent victims can be provided with support that they need. as i have said in response to other questions, i believe it is important this was a collective action taken by the uk together with france and the united states. there have been a number of supportive statements from other international leaders following the action. the intent of the international community now must be to make
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every effort through a variety of dhachannels to ensure we can give this very clear message about the use of chemical weapons. that is what this action has been about and we will continue to press on in a variety of ways. just behind you, jay. >> thank you, prime minister. because of this continuing and the heightening tension between the west and russia, some people started to call this situation new cold war. what would you do, what could you do, in order not to let this military activity lead to a new cold war? >> as i say, this has been focused. this action has been focused on the activities of the syrian regime. obviously the syrian regime has been backed by russia. this action is about chemical weapons. we need the resource of the
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wider issue of restoring peace and stability and security in syria and we will continue to work with all partners and, of course, russia's involvement in that will be a part of that to bring about that security and that peace for syria in the future and political solution for syria in the future. >> simon israel from channel 4 news. given the failure, as you have said in your statement of all diplomatic efforts so far, what is the plan following these strikes? >> sorry, what is the plan for -- >> your plan, following the strikes. >> as i said, diplomatic efforts in itself has not had the impact that we wished it would have. we have now taken military action and alongside that, we will renew diplomatic efforts as well. some of those will continue to be through the united nations to
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press for proper investigative capability, opportunities for proper investigation and holding into account those who use these chemical weapons. the aim is to degrade operational capability of the syrian regime and deter their willingness to use chemical weapons. there is the wider issue overall about the use of chemical weapons and we will continue to perceive that through the united nations. >> thank you. ed from the telegraph. were there any communications with the russian government or military about possible military action before it was taken? >> this is not something that the united kingdom has been involved in. as you are aware, this is a
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complicated picture in terms of operations that take place in syria, full and proper planning was put into place before the strikes were undertaken to ensure that we could mitigate and minimize the impact on civilians and ensure that these strikes were absolutely targeted at their aim, which was the chemical weapons capability of the syrian regime. here. >> thank you, nina from the press association. what would you say to britains and others who fear reprisals in the wake of the attacks? >> we have, of course, taken steps to ensure that we are providing support and have looked at those britains who are erseas who may be concerned about such attacks and providing advice to people as it would do in these circumstances.
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yes. >> prime minister, was on the way of going to duma today, why not wait one or two days to get formal approval for the reproaches that have been used of chemical weapons especially since the russians are carefully framing that there are no proof and great britain is lying? >> first of all, we have made every effort over the past week to assess what happened on the ground. we have, as i indicated in my statement, i have given a number of examples of the factors present that led us to believe not that this was a chemical weapons attack, but an attack at the hands of the syrian regime. this is not the only attack that has taken place. the reason for our action isn't simply about what happened in duma, it's the wider use. they have, on four previous
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occasions identified the syrian regime's use of chemical weapons. it was important, at the point of which we had the information that showed us that all the indications were, this was a chemical weapons attack at the hands of the syrian regime. the plan had been put in place that we took the action that was necessary. over there. >> thank you. french tv. given that chemical attacks happened before in syria and the uk didn't take such measures as yesterday, do you think your decision last night about syria would have been the same if the salisbury attack didn't happen? >> we looked at this very much in terms of what happened in syria and the continued use of chemical weapons in syria. the united states chos to act and act alone in relation to those attacks.
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i believe it was right, on this occasion, there was a wider collective action that took place, which shows the strengths of the action that was being taken. it was significantly greater action that was taken but also showed that strength in that international community's response. we have been concerned for some time about the use of chemical weapons in syria and the evidence that has been gathered about that continued use of chemical weapons was such we felt it was right to participate on this occasion. three more here. at the back there. >> i'm still unclear about what you see the role of parliament in this. in the event that uk takes further military action, will you put that to a vote of mps? >> first of all, as i said, this decision was taken because i believe it was the right thing
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to do. the power to make this decision is per ogtive power. at the first opportunity, parliament will have an opportunity to question this and i will be in parliament on monday to do so. the intent of this action is that it does degrade and it does deter the syrian regime from taking action. we will follow up with further action and the wider question of the use of chemical weapons. two more. >> sunday express. in light of russia continuing to use its veto, are you concerned about the effectiveness of the united nations? >> i think my message would be this? the membership of the security council is a permanent membership is given only to a limited number of countries. i think it is important that those who sit around that security council table take
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seriously the responsibility they have to the wider international community for decisions that are taken. i hope that the action that is being taken in syria will deter and degrade the syrian's ability to use chemical weapons and send a message to others about the use of chemical weapons. this is illegal, banned and should not happen. the gentleman in the second row here. >> thank you. william james, reuters. being clear this was not about regime change, why not? is it the british position that assad can stay as long as he doesn't use chemical weapons? >> this was about, as i said and you recognized, this is specifically about the use of chemical weapons. there is a wider question on the future political solution for syria. that is a matter we will continue to pursue in diplomatic channels with our international
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partners and allies. now, the last one i will take is from dave. >> in light of the benefit of hindsight, do you feel what's happened the last five years demonstrated the vote in 2013 to take no action proves that no action, taking no action in the cases can be as devastating as going in? >> obviously, i was a member of government in 2013, i voted to take action in 2013. i believe when the government put that to parliament, we did it because we felt it was the right thing to do. there were commitments by the syrian regime to destroy their chemical weapons and russia guaranteeing that was taking place. that has not happened. i think it is right now that we have sent that clear message by taking this military action. thank you. >> we have been listening to
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comments from prime minister theresa may from london. it is roughly 9:30 in the morning there. she was giving a detailed account on last night's military action on syria, a joint effort between the united states, uk and france. joining me is cal perry. cal, what is your biggest take away from the pm? she reiterated many things and again with questions. what is your take away. >> the highlight of the speech and the questions was the prime minister saying this was just about the use of chemical weapons by the assad regime. she tried to provide evidence that it was, as she said, undeniably the assad regime talking about a helicopter over the city at the time. we have been showing the horrendous pictures the world has seen. the mission, she was confident of its success. she talked about, again, this was the first time she had the call on the armed forces of the uk, making that point a number of times again on this saturday
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morning, addressed to the nation. we are talking about the different narratives and have been all night. just before she came out to talk to the british public, vladimir putin, the president of russia, making comments to the press in moscow. he called this a, quote, condemn the attack by the americans. there were no russian casualties. no russian air defense missiles were used. he talked of the strikes exasperating the humanitarian condition that exists inside syria. he's going to call an emergency session of united nations in new york. not surprising, we are talking very different narratives, one from the united states, uk and france. they say it was effective in its messaging. probably not effective in the targets that were hit. that's something we are hearing from the syrian government. they were saying they were able to thwart the attacks from the three countries, the united
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states, united kingdom and france. everybody here, seemingly, at this point, saving face. we have heard they were very strategic strikes and they seem to be very strategic diplomatically. the united states can claim they were able to do what president trump committed them to doing three days ago on twitter. president assad can, again, claim victory he was able to thwart the attack. the russians didn't lose any service members. no need for them to respond to the attack. again, that word calculated, used around the world, it seems that's what it was. >> you have been monitoring syrian tv. what is going on in syria in response to the attacks? >> there were two dangers, one the united states would hit targets where there would be russian or iranian troops. that would significantly escalated the situation in the region, but perhaps globally as well. the other danger of this strike
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was that it was just symbolic like the one that took place a year ago. the strike a year ago was one target, one airfield, roughly 59 missiles used there. this strike tonight was three targets around double, we understand, the fire power. you are seeing on the left side of the screen, syrian state television. because there was no real damage done, because we haven't seen pictures of the command and control centers degraded or barracks degraded, what you are seeing on the left side of the screen is celebration in the streets of damascus. this narrative put out by syrian state television, clearly propaganda they were victorious in thwarting the attack by the united states military. keep in mind, we have talked about this before, president trump saying three days ago, that syrians should prepare, the russians should prepare, calling the weapons smart, calling them
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new, gave plenty of time for the syrian government to prepare for the attack and the russian military to prepare for the attack. we know the russian military was able to remove nar ships from the port. the syrian army moved many of their men, many of their equipment on russian army bases. there was plenty of time to react. because of that, what you are seeing is a very effective propaganda effort aimed at the syrian people after seven years of brutal war, half a million dead, 11 million people displaced. a very strong message from the syrian president, as strong as those chemical weapons that the syrian people should stand behind president assad. he is the last remaining option. the fact of the matter is, he probably is the last remaining option when you look at the options they have. one of the interesting things we heard from the pentagon and one of the things from prime minister may is they are leaving the door open for future strikes. the question is, will the syrian
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government stop striking at the civilian populations and some of those last rebel held pockets? is the answer is probably not. the answer is how far will the u.s., the french and the united kingdom be willing to take it? >> you talk about the different narratives here. we are going to listen to mattis talking about the other countries that might fall in this diplomatic deterrent here. >> right now, this is a one-time shot and i believe that it's sent a very strong message to dissuade him, to deter him from doing this again. we used a little over double the number of weapons this year than we used last year. it was done on targets that we believe were selective to hurt the chemical weapons program. we confined it to the chemical weapons type targets. >> there is mattis.
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he is being specific, as was theresa may talking specific points they were hitting on target and the fact that these were specifically to stop the continuation of the chemical warfare done in syria. where do they go from here? if this strikes, if the syrians are having one narrative and the uk, france and the united states are having completely different narrative, where do they go from here? >> what do they do if the status quo remains the same, president assad continues to strike out at the civilian population? it was interesting to hear the defense secretary talk about how they wanted to strike at the chemical weapons facilities but not broaden out the conflict. we heard the same from prime minister may. she said a development site, a storage site and bunker used in the attacks. nothing to degrade the capabilities of, again, the
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russian military or the syrian government. of course, one of the things we talked so thoroughly about in the days leading up to the strike were the anti-aircraft batteries of the russian army. they really didn't have to be used because the targets, again, were not these commanding control facilities, they were chemical storage facilities. the strike was very, very c calculated. the united states wants to send a message not just to the syrians, but also the russians. president trump probably wants to send a message here where he has a great deal of political strife going on. the russians want to solidify their position in syria. they have done that. again, the syrian government is able, today, to say they were able to stand-up to the americans, to the united kingdom and the french. the message that sends to the civilian population has been through an unimaginable horror
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over the last seven years. the message is clear, their one leader is president assad. he may be absolutely propped up by the russian military, but it does not change the fact that, again, he is in power. his military is still there and the russians are not going anywhere. >> cal, before or as the strikes were happening, president trump took to the air waves and gave a speech to what was going on with the air strikes. take a listen. >> i also have a message tonight for the two governments most responsible for supporting, equipping and financing the criminal assad regime. to iran and russia, i ask, what kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children? in 2013, president putin and his government promised the world they would guarantee the elimination of syria's chemical
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weapons. assad's recent attack and today's response are the direct result of russia's failure to keep that promise. russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or if it will join with civilized nations and a force for stability and peace. hopefully some day we'll get along with russia and maybe even iran, but maybe not. >> cal, the president there, not really saying that we are going to have diplomatic options coming, as he is pointing out with russia, if they come on board the united states to stop this chemical warfare going on with assad. diplomatic efforts aside, with this being a pointed strike at the weapons area, you said there was a bunker and targeted sections, what is the next step for diplomacy?
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is there a way to come out of this? theresa may has to talk with parliament. where do we go from here? >> there's two militaries talking to one other. there is no u.s. secretary of state and continued violence across syria. again, targeting the civilian population. the question is, as you point out, what will the u.s. response be when the violence continues? will russia call the american bluff? the military bluff? they most doubtedly will. the prime minister linking the use of chemical weapons to the united kingdom homeland where a russian spy was poisoned. we will keep our eye out if it ratchets up further. >> cal perry, thank you so much for joining me. as we have been listening to prime minister theresa may discuss the statement of air strikes and chemical weapons field in syria and, of course,
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we will have more coverage on this. you have been watching our coverage of the syrian air strikes in syria from the u.s., the great britain and france. together, joining forces, theresa may has spoken out, president trump has spoken out. stay with us, you are watching our special coverage.
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good evening from msnbc headquarters, we are continuing our coverage against syria chemical programs by the united states and allies, including britain and france. president trump authorizing strikes targeting three sites near damascus, a research facility, storage facility and command and control facility. the stated goal, according to the pentagon, to degrade the ability to launch chemical


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