The U.S. army launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield late on Thursday. It is first direct American assault on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since that country’s civil war began six years ago.
The Trump administration authorized the strike in response for the recent chemical attack killing scores of civilians this week, including many children.
President Trump said the strike was in the “vital national security interest” of the United States and called on “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria. And also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”
“No child of God should ever suffer such horror. Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest 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 U.N. Security Council,” said the American president on Thursday evening.
The missiles were launched from two Navy destroyers — the USS Ross and USS Porter — in the eastern Mediterranean. They struck an airbase called Shayrat in Homs province, which is the site from which the planes that conducted the chemical attack in Idlib are believed to have originated. The targets included air defenses, aircraft, hangars and fuel.
The military said initial indications were that the strike had “severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure.”
Syrian state TV said a U.S. missile attack hit a number of military targets inside the country, calling the attack an “aggression.” The Syrian side reported six dead and major damages.
Russia retorts, suspends memorandum with US on Syria
As for Russia, President Vladimir Putin “regards the strikes as aggression against a sovereign nation,” his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, noting that the president believes the strikes were carried out “in violation of international law, and also under an invented pretext.”
Peskov also insisted that “the Syrian army doesn’t have chemical weapons,” saying this had been “observed and confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a special UN unit.”
Putin sees the US missile strike on Syria as an attempt to distract attention from civilian casualties in Iraq, Peskov added.
“This step deals significant damage to US-Russian ties, which are already in a deplorable state,” Peskov said.
Russian Foreign Ministry also announced that Moscow is suspending memorandum with US that prevented incidents and ensured flight safety in Syria.