Assad, supporters defiant after Syria air strikes
Joseph Eid / AFP
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Western strikes on government military installations Saturday "will only make Syria and its people more determined to keep fighting and crushing terrorism in every inch of the country."
The US, France, and Britain launched a volley of strikes Saturday morning on positions around the capital Damascus and the central city of Homs.
The action came a week after an alleged gas attack that killed more than 40 people outside Damascus, but which Syria said was a "fabrication" intended to justify military action.
Assad suggested that the strikes came as the West realized that it had lost control and credibility in the conflict.
The regime projected an image of normalcy, publishing a video of him strutting into work at 9am sharp as usual.
Earlier, Syria's foreign ministry denounced the Western strikes as a "brutal, barbaric aggression."
"The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the strongest terms the brutal American-British-French aggression against Syria, which constitutes a flagrant violation of international law," the foreign ministry said.
The ministry also claimed the strikes aimed to block a probe by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a global watchdog.
"The timing of the aggression coincides with the arrival of OPCW mission to Syria to investigate the alleged chemical attack in Douma, and mainly aims at hindering the mission's work and preempting its results," it said in comments carried by state news agency SANA.
The ministry said it was an "attempt to block the exposure of their lies and fabrications".
The agency had earlier slammed the attack as "a flagrant violation of international law, a breach of the international community's will, and it is doomed to fail."
SANA reported that the joint operation was targeting military installations around Damascus and near the central city of Homs.
It said three civilians were wounded in the Homs attacks but did not give a toll for Damascus or mention any combatant casualties.
Following the attack on Saturday morning, dozens of Syrians arrived to the famed Umayyad Square to show their support for Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, draped in flags and belting out patriotic tunes.
Lebanese movement Hezbollah, an ally of the Syrian regime, sharply condemned the strikes, saying they would not achieve their objectives.
"America's war against Syria, and against the region's peoples and resistance movement, will not achieve its aims," the group said in a statement published on its War Media Channel.
Several missiles hit a research center in Barzeh, north of Damascus, "destroying a building that included scientific labs and a training center," SANA reported.
State media published images of a cloud of reddish smoke hanging over the capital and said that air defenses were activated to block the attack.
But it said skies were clear over Aleppo in the north, Hasakeh in the northeast, and Latakia and Tartus along the western coast, where key Syrian and Russian military installations are located.
Syria's internal security forces entered Douma on Saturday, state media reported, saying the final rebel holdout on the edge of Damascus would be secured within "hours".
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