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Syrian Opposition Welcomes US Strike on Regime Airbase, Urges More | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this image provided by the US Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea, Friday, April 7, 2017. The United States blasted a Syrian air base with a barrage of cruise missiles. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/US Navy via AP)

The Syrian opposition welcomed US strikes against a regime airbase in central Syria’s Homs on Friday and urged additional action after two American warships fired dozens of missiles at the airfield.

“We hope for the continuation of the strikes in order to prevent the regime from using its planes to launch any new air raids or going back to using internationally banned weapons,” said Ahmad Ramadan, head of the media office of the Syrian National Coalition political opposition group.

The US attack on the Shayrat base was Washington’s first military action against the regime in the six-year civil war. It came in response to what US President Donald Trump called a “barbaric” chemical attack in Idlib he blamed on the Damascus regime.

“Hitting one airbase is not enough, there are 26 airbases that target civilians,” a key figure in the Army of Islam faction, Mohamed Alloush, said on his Twitter account.

“The whole world should save the Syrian people from the clutches of the killer Bashar (al-Assad) and his aides.”

Nasr al-Hariri, chief negotiator of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said on Twitter that the strikes “in case they continue, would kick off a correct start in combatting terrorism”.

The HNC, the main opposition body which includes political and armed groups, has participated in UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva.

Hasan Haj Ali, commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, which fights under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) umbrella, told Reuters the strikes came at a “very important phase” and showed Syrians that “there is still humanity in this world”.

While Ali said he did not expect more strikes, “we can say that the time has become very appropriate for Bashar al-Assad and the criminals with him to go to the dustbins of history”.

“The American strike against the killing tools used by Bashar al-Assad is the first step on the correct path to combating terrorism and we hope it will continue,” said Issam Raes, spokesman for the Southern Front rebel faction.

“In my opinion, the message is political, and the message has arrived to Russia and been understood,” he told Agence France Presse.

Colonel Ahmed Osman, of the Sultan Murad rebel group said: “We welcome any action that will put an end to the regime that is committing the worst crimes in history.”

Mohamed Bayrakdar, another leader of the Army of Islam, which operates mainly around the capital Damascus, described the strike as “a bold and correct step.”

“We welcome any response to the crimes of the regime,” he told AFP.