Syria: US, UK and France launch air strikes in response to chemical weapons attack
US, British and French forces have pounded chemical weapons sites in Syria with air strikes in response to a poison gas attack that killed dozens in the rebel-held town of Douma last week.
In a televised address to the nation, US President Donald Trump said the three nations had “marshalled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality”.
The strikes were the biggest intervention by Western powers against Bashar al-Assad in the country’s seven-year-old civil war, which has pitted the US and its allies against Russia.
The Pentagon said the strikes targeted a research center in Damascus, along with a chemical weapons storage facility and command post west of Homs.
Russia’s Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said in a statement that Russia had warned that “such actions will not be left without consequences”.
US Defence Secretary James Mattis said the strikes were a “one-time shot” to send a clear message to Mr Assad and his “murderous lieutenants”.
“We did everything we could in our intelligence assessment and our planning to minimise to the maximum degree … any chance of civilian casualties.”
He said the US did not co-ordinate with Russia on the strike nor did it pre-notify the Russians.
“We specifically identified these targets to mitigate the risk of Russian forces being involved,” Mattis said.
Trump said the strikes were in response to the “evil and the despicable” chemical attack on April 7 which “left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air”.
The Pentagon said the US and its allies fired more than 100 missiles from ships and aircraft.
It could not confirm how many missiles hit their targets.
A pro-Assad official said about 30 missiles were fired at Syria and that about a third were shot down.
Several explosions were heard in Damascus. Black plumes of smoke were seen rising from in the east, and the sky turned orange.
After the attack finished vehicles with loudspeakers roamed the capital’s streets blaring nationalist songs.
PM Netanyahu’s statement about the Syria strikes:
A year ago, I declared Israel’s full support for President Trump’s decision to take a stand against the use and spread of chemical weapons. President Trump’s resolve and Israel’s support remain unchanged. Early this morning, under American leadership, the United States, France and the United Kingdom demonstrated that their commitment is not limited to proclamations of principle.
It should be clear to President Assad that his reckless efforts to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, his wanton disregard for international law and his provision of a forward base for Iran and its proxies endanger Syria.
The UN Security Council voted to reject the Russian resolution condemning “aggression” against Syria by the US, UK and France.
The Russian-drafted resolution failed to pass. Only Russia, China and Bolivia voted in favor of the draft resolution. Eight countries voted against the draft, while four abstained. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, France, Britain or the United States to pass.
President Trump tweeted earlier, “Mission accomplished!” after the strike and Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May agreed it had been a success.