Assad Stages Independence Day Rally Claiming Victory over U.S. Strikes

Syrians rally in Damascus' Umayyad square on April 16, 2018 in support of President Bashar al-Assad following Western air strikes against the regime over an alleged chemical attack

Dictator Bashar al-Assad’s government claims that “tens of thousands of Syrians” took to the streets in Damascus on Monday to celebrate Syrian Independence Day and mark the regime’s “victory” over this weekend’s airstrikes launched by the U.S. and its allies, suggesting the attack failed to dent the country’s chemical weapons program.

Citing a live broadcast of the demonstration by state TV, the Associated Press (AP), which estimated that only hundreds participated in the gathering, notes that attendees shouted “Allah, Syria, and only Bashar!”

Referring to the same rally, the state-controlled Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reports:

Tens of thousands of Syrians gathered at the Umayyad Square in Damascus on Monday to mark the 72nd anniversary of Evacuation Day (Syrian Independence Day, which marks the evacuation of French occupation forces from the country in 1946) and the victories of the Syrian Army on terrorism and the recent tripartite US-British-French aggression on Syria.

On Saturday, pro-Assad Syrians in the United States showed support for the dictator at an independence rally in Allentown, Pennsylvania, home to one of the largest Syrian communities in America.

Those who attended the U.S.-based demonstration expressed anger towards the strikes against the Assad regime, but “others in Allentown’s Old Syria neighborhood who did not attend the flag-raising say there is fear and a sense of betrayal among some in the Syrian community,” points out AP, adding:

Syrian-Americans have expressed anger at the missile strike on their homeland as they celebrated their country’s independence day at a rally in Pennsylvania.

The Morning Call of Allentown reports about 50 Syrians chanted in Arabic and sang the Syrian national anthem at the annual event. They also sang the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

An April 7 chemical weapons attack that killed more than 40 people, injured dozens of others, and the Pentagon has attributed to the Assad regime, spurred the United States and its allies to launch more than 100 missiles at Syria last Friday.

Although President Donald Trump described the operation as “an enormous success,” the Assad regime is reportedly interpreting the move as a win for Assad, arguing that the limited scope of the strikes — targeting scientific research centers in Damascus — suggest Western nations do not plan to challenge the dictator’s rule.

The extent to which the strikes impacted Assad’s ability to launch more chemical attacks remains unclear.

Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the joint staff director, conceded that the attack did not target all of the facilities involved in making chemical weapons for Assad, explaining, “There’s still a residual element of Syrian program that’s out there. I believe that we took the heart of it out with the attacks that we accomplished last night [Friday].”

Moscow claims that Soviet-era weapons shot down about 70 percent (71) of the 103 missiles fired by the United States and its allies, prompting Assad to declare that the strikes demonstrate Russian weapons are superior to the United States ones.

The Pentagon denies Moscow’s claim.

Support from Iran and Syria propped up the Assad regime at a time when it had suffered significant setbacks.

Now, Assad controls more territory than during any other time since the start of the Syrian civil war in March 2011, courtesy of the support he gets from Russia and Iran.


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