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    White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon listens at right as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on cyber security in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017.

    'It's No Coincidence': Pentagon Attacks Syria After Bannon's Removal From NSC

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    It's no accident that the Pentagon launched an unprecedented airstrike against Damascus hours after President Donald Trump removed White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council, Cornell Clayton, Director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute of Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University, asserted.

    The analyst told Radio Sputnik that Bannon's presence on the council designed to advise the US president on national security and foreign policy matters was "always an anomaly," adding that his primary task was to "make sure that the NSC was de-operationalized."

    "I suspect that [Bannon's] anxiousness about being on the council, in the Principals Committee in particular, was to shape the messaging of US foreign policy towards a more nationalist perspective," Clayton noted, saying this trend has most likely been reversed after the reshuffle. "For instance, we see the strike yesterday in Syria. That's something [Bannon] would have been very much opposed to. I don't think it is a coincidence that Bannon was removed and you see that kind of internationalist policy decision being made right after he was removed."

    The NSC reshuffle, which took place Wednesday, also saw General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, being reinstated to the Principals Committee, while Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert was demoted.

    Bannon said that he succeeded in fulfilling his key task with regard to the NSC. 

    "Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration so I was put on the NSC to ensure it was 'de-operationalized.' General McMaster has the NSC back to its proper function," he said in a statement.

    Rice, a former US Ambassador to the UN, served as the National Security Advisor from 2013 until 2017 under the Obama administration.

    ​Less than 24 hours after the NSC overhaul the United States launched a massive airstrike involving 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles targeting the Shayrat air base located in the Homs province. The Pentagon said that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) used the facility to ostensibly store highly toxic compounds and launch an attack that claimed nearly 80 lives and left 200 injured on the outskirts of Khan Shaykhun, a town in the rebel-held province of Idlib.

    US officials maintain that the Pentagon's operation was carried out "in retaliation" for the chemical attack. However, they did not provide any evidence proving that the government of Bashar al-Assad was complicit.

    For its part, the Syrian leadership and the SAA command denied using chemical weapons against civilians.

    The Russian Defense Ministry also said that Damascus did not use toxic substances since the Assad government destroyed these armaments under a deal brokered by Moscow and Washington in 2013. The ministry explained that the Syrian Arab Air Force hit a large militant ammunition depot, which stored military hardware, as well as chemical weapons intended for Iraq.

    Moscow and Damascus condemned the Pentagon's operation, the first of its kind during the six-year-long Syrian War.

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    US Missile Attack on the Syria's Sha'irat Airbase
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    US Missile Attack on the Syria's Sha'irat Airbase
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    US Missile Attack on Syrian Air Base (200)

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    US foreign policy, airstrike, reshuffle, National Security Council, Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump, Syria, United States
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