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Syrian opposition say Western strikes on Assad targets 'a farce'

The White Helmets are among the many Syrians to protest Saturday's chemical massacre [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 14 April, 2018

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Syrian opposition politicians and anti-regime activists said they fear the Western strikes give Bashar al-Assad a green light to continue using conventional weapons on the Syrian people.

Syria's opposition have slammed the limited Western airstrikes on chemical weapons sites in Homs and Damascus, saying the intervention does not go far enough.

The strikes launched by the US, UK and France on three locations in Syria were in response to a chemical attack on an opposition enclave of Douma last weekend, near Damascus.

The West said it had ample evidence to suggest the chemical strike - which left at least 40 people dead - was carried out by the Syrian regime and vowed a response.

Yet the limited scale of the strikes has been criticised by many Syrian activists, who argue it will have no effect on ending Bashar al-Assad's conventional bombings that have killed hundreds of thousands of people.

France said it informed Russia prior to launch the strikes, with Syrian regime officials saying they too were told in advance.

Mohammed Alloush, from Syrian rebel group Jaish al-Islam that were in Douma when the attack took place, described the US-led airstrikes as a "farce".

"Punishing the instrument of the crime while keeping the criminal - a farce," he wrote.

Nasr al-Hariri from the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC) said that the strikes will not halt Bashar al-Assad's killing of civilians through other means.

"I think the regime will not risk using chemical weapons in Syria again. It will only use explosive barrels, cluster bombs," he said.

The Syrian National Coalition said on Twitter that Saturday's chemical massacre warranted a response from the West.

"The international community has the responsibility to stop Assad from committing War Crimes against the Syrian people. The message must be clear: Enough killing #SyrianChildren."

Hadi Albahra from the coalition thanked the US-led coalition for launching strikes on chemical facilities.

"Only chemical weapons related facilities, research and military support and command ones have been hit، three of them, no civilian casualties reported. It was very limited and precision guided," he wrote.

"We appreciate the US, UK, & France response to the chemical attacks. What is needed is to sustain the campaign until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents & to deter all indiscriminate attacks, to protect civilians & push forward for political resolution." 

But he also said the strikes will send a message to Assad that it is still acceptable to use conventional weapons on Syrian towns and cities.

Syrians in Idlib, who are fear they will be the next targets of Bashar's bombs, said they do not feel safer after the strikes.

"These strikes are just theatrical, it's an anesthesia shot for the world, only empty words. If they wanted to help us, they would have done so at the beginning. Either they give us air defence or they rid of us from the head of the regime, the criminal Bashar al-Assad. There is no hope," Jilal al-Ahmad, a grocer in Idlib, told AFP.

Bana al-Abed, the child activist whose posted videos from besieged East Aleppo during a regime offensive in 2016, said simply: "I am praying for my country. God help Syria."

Agencies contributed to this story.

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