Syrian air defenses ‘shoot down 13 missiles’ fired in US-led attack
- Syrian State TV showed the ruins of the facility in Barzeh, near Damascus
- It has described the attacks as ‘flagrant violation’ of international law
- The United States and its allies waged up to 120 air strikes on Syria on Friday
- The Pentagon could not confirm how many missiles hit their targets
- Mattis and Dunford acknowledged the strike was designed to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capability without killing civilians
- Syrian state TV says 13 missiles fired in US-led attack had been shot down
- It said three civilians have been wounded in the attack on a military base in Homs
- President Donald Trump said Friday evening he ordered precision strikes in Syria
- Said it was in retaliation for Bashar al-Assad’s poison gas attack last weekend
Syrian state television has broadcast footage showing the ruins of a chemical weapons research centre near Damascus hit during the air strikes.
Pentagon officials say the attacks targeted the heart of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s programs to develop and produce chemical weapons.
The Syrian military says more than 100 missiles were fired against a military base in Syria’s central Homs province and the research centre in Barzeh, near Damascus.
In the images shown on Al-Ikhbariya piles of rubble outside a destroyed building and a burned vehicle are visible.
The Syrian military says the attack on the centre destroyed an educational center and labs.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Marine General Joseph Dunford said three main chemical weapons facilities were targeted by both missiles from the sea and fired from aircraft, which triggered Syrian air defences.
The United States and its allies waged up to 120 air strikes on Syria on Friday in a ‘one time shot’ that the Pentagon said followed conclusive evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for a chemical weapons attack using at least chlorine gas.
The Pentagon said none of its missiles were intercepted by Syria air defence, while Russian military forces claim Assad’s defence systems.
Yet Syrian state TV said it shot down 13 missiles, which were taken down in the Kiswah area south of Damascus, the capital.
Syrian state TV said three civilians have been wounded on the attack on a military base in Homs.
Other targets which were hit by allied missiles include a military base in Syria’s central Homs province and the research center in Barzeh, near Damascus.
The images shown on Al-Ikhbariya TV are the first of one of the targets. Seen in the footage are piles of rubble outside a destroyed building and a burned vehicle.
The Syrian military says the attack on the center destroyed an educational center and labs.
It says another attack with ‘a number of missiles’ targeting a scientific research center destroyed a building and caused other material damage but no human losses. The network says the building in the research center included an educational center and labs.
Mattis and Dunford acknowledged the strike was designed to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capability without killing civilians or the many foreign fighters in Syria’s multi-sided civil war, particularly those from Russia.
‘We specifically identified these targets to mitigate the risk of Russian forces being involved,’ Dunford told reporters, adding the U.S. military advised Russia of airspace that would be used in the strike but did not ‘pre-notify them.’
The Pentagon said one of the targets was a scientific research center located in the greater Damascus area, which it described as a Syrian center for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological weaponry.
The second target was a chemical weapons storage facility west of the city of Homs.
‘We assess that this was the primary location of Syrian sarin and precursor production equipment,’ Dunford said.
The third target, which was also near Homs, contained both a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and a command post.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdulrahman said all the targeted locations were evacuated three days ago after the Russians told the government they had intelligence that bases including the research centers would be hit. He said there were so far no reports of civilian or military casualties.
Loud explosions heard throughout Damascus amid U.S. strikes
According to CNN, at least one US Navy warship based in the Red Sea took part in the strikes. US B-1 bombers were also used.
British forces launched their attack from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, where four RAF Tornado GR4s aircrafts took off from and launched Storm Shadow missiles at the military facility 15 miles west of Homs.
The Ministry of Defence refused to disclose to MailOnline how many missiles it had launched.
Mattis acknowledged that the United States waged the attacks only with conclusive evidence that chlorine gas was used in the April 7 attack in Syria.
Syrians were pictured out in the streets of Damascus this morning, chanting anti-Trump songs and waving Syrian, Iranian and Russian flags following the airstrikes.
Allegations of Assad’s chlorine use are frequent in Syria’s conflict, raising questions about whether Washington had lowered the threshold for military action in Syria by now deciding to strike after a chlorine gas attack.
Last year, the United States only waged strikes on Syria after determining that more deadly sarin gas was used and some U.S. media had reported that Washington was confident Assad had also used sarin on April 7.
Mattis, however, suggested the evidence of sarin was so far inconclusive.
‘We are very confident that chlorine was used. We are not ruling out sarin right now,’ Mattis said.
Mattis said the U.S. has no reports of suffering any losses during the initial airstrikes on Syria Friday.
Syrians wave the national flag and wave portraits of President Bashar al-Assad as they gather at the Umayyad Square in Damascus today to condemn the strikes carried out by the United States, Britain and France against the Syrian regime
Donald Trump is pictured addressing the nation from the White House, announcing the retaliatory airstrikes on Syria
Trump orders strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities
Mattis said ‘right now this is a one-time shot’ but is not ruling out further attacks. President Donald Trump had said earlier that the campaign against the regime of Bashar Assad could be ‘sustained.’
President Donald Trump said Friday evening in a national address that he ordered precision strikes in Syria in retaliation for Bashar al-Assad’s ‘evil and despicable’ poison gas attack that killed up to 75 people last weekend.
Speaking from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, the commander-in-chief of the United States said the strikes pummeled targets associated with Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities.
‘This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons used by the very terrible regime. The evil and despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air.’
Trump said of the Syrian dictator’s horrific April 7 attack on innocent civilians. ‘These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster, instead.’
Trump forcefully confronted Iran and Russia for aligning themselves with ‘barbarism and brutality’ and said the United States and its allies in the strike, France and Britain, are prepared ‘to sustain this response’ until Assad discontinues his use of internationally prohibited nuclear weapons.
‘What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?’ Trump asked. ‘The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants and murderous dictators.’
‘The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,’ Trump said.
Trump said a combined operation with France and Britain was under way and that they were prepared to sustain the response until Syria stopped its use of chemical weapons.
But he said America does not seek ‘an indefinite presence’ in Syria and will look to pull out its troops once the Islamic State is totally defeated.
Defense Secretary James Mattis’ statement
Good evening. As the world knows, the Syrian people have suffered terribly under the prolonged brutality of the Assad regime.
On April 7th, the regime decided to again defy the norms of civilized people, showing callous disregard for international law by using chemical weapons to murder women, children and other innocents.
We and our allies find these atrocities inexcusable. As our commander in chief, the president has the authority under Article II of the Constitution to use military force overseas to defend important U.S. national interests.
The United States has an important national interest in averting a worsening humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, and specifically deterring the use and proliferation of chemical weapons.
Last year, in response to a chemical weapons attack against civilians and to signal the regime to cease chemical weapons use, we targeted the military base from which the weapons were delivered.
Earlier today, President Trump directed the U.S. military to conduct operations, in consonance with our allies, to destroy the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons research, development and production capabilities.
Tonight, France, the United Kingdom and the United States took decisive action to strike the Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure.
Clearly, the Assad regime did not get the message last year. This time, our allies and we have struck harder.
Together, we have sent a clear message to Assad, and his murderous lieutenants, that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable.
The 70 nations in the defeat ISIS coalition remain committed to defeating ISIS in Syria.
The strike tonight separately demonstrates international resolve to prevent chemical weapons from being used on anyone, under any circumstance, in contravention of international law.
I want to emphasize that these strikes are directed at the Syrian regime. In conducting these strikes, we have gone to great lengths to avoid civilian and foreign casualties. But it is time for all civilized nations to urgently unite in ending the Syrian civil war by supporting the United Nations backed Geneva peace process.
In accordance with the chemical weapons convention prohibiting the use of such weapons, we urge responsible nations to condemn the Assad regime and join us in our firm resolve to prevent chemical weapons from being used again.
General Dunford will provide a military update.
Based on recent experience, we fully expect a significant disinformation campaign over the coming days by those who have aligned themselves with the Assad regime.
In an effort to maintain transparency and accuracy, my assistant for public affairs, Dana White, and Lt. Gen. McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff, will provide a brief of known details tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.