US strikes Syria in retaliation for chemical weapons attack, oil price surges
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The price of oil has surged after the US launched air strikes on the Syrian air base allegedly involved in a chemical weapons attack earlier this week.

US President Donal Trump authorised the strikes, which occurred overnight, after telling reporters yesterday that images of children choking on poisonous gas had "changed" his attitude towards the conflict in Syria and the country's leader Bashar al Assad.

US warships fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the air base near Homs but not before warning Russian military authorities stationed in Syria of the strikes.

News of the first US attack on the Syrian government caused the price of Brent crude to spike above $56 before easing slightly.

US crude also put on 1.6 percent to $52.50 a barrel, putting it on track for a 3.8 percent gain this week.

Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at Oanda, said the latest escalation in the Syrian conflict could have a big impact on markets.

"What will be the response of Iran and Russia, two of the world's largest oil producers and staunch allies of the Assad regime? ... We will have to wait for these answers as the day moves on," Mr Halley told the BBC.

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Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at London broker CMC Markets, said the attacks added "a complexity to geopolitics that wasn't there before".

The situation is complicated because Russia remains Syria's biggest ally in the conflict, providing vital air support, military advisers and intelligence.

"Markets in Europe are likely to reflect this escalation in tensions with a lower open and higher gold prices as safe haven assets attract capital flows," Mr Hewson said.

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The air strikes were retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that the US attributes to the Assad regime, citing radar data.

Shortly after the attack President Trump told reporters from his Mar-a-Lago resort, where he was meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, that he had ordered strikes "on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched."

"It is in this vital national security of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons."

"There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council. Years of previous attempts at changing Assad's behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically."

The move represents a radical departure from Trump's previous stance on Syria, which he repeatedly argued the US should not get involved in.

The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons, saying their forces had bombed a rebel chemical weapons storage facility.

Russia has backed the Syrian government and condemned the US attack.

"Russia will demand an urgent UN Security Council meeting after the US airstrike on a Syrian aviation base," said Viktor Ozerov, head of the Russian Federation Council's defense committee.

"This is an act of aggression against a UN member. Cooperation between the Russian and US militaries may be shut down after the US strike."


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