U.S., Britain, France launch air strikes in Syria
U.S., British and French forces hammered Syria with air strikes early Saturday Syria time in response to a poison gas attack that killed dozens of people last week, in the biggest intervention by Western powers in Syria’s civil war, Reuters reported.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced the military action from the White House late on Friday. As he spoke, explosions rocked Damascus.
Trump said he was prepared to sustain the response until the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stopped its use of chemical weapons.
“A short time ago, I ordered the United States Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad,” Trump said in a televised address from the White House.
A U.S. official told Reuters the strikes were aimed at multiple targets and involved Tomahawk cruise missiles.
At least six loud explosions were heard in Damascus in the early hours of Saturday and smoke was seen rising over the Syrian capital, a Reuters witness said. A second witness said the Barzah district of Damascus had been hit in the strikes. Barzah is the location of a major Syrian scientific research center.
“The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,” Trump said.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said she had authorized British armed forces “to conduct co-ordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability.” She described it as a “limited and targeted strike” aimed at minimizing civilian casualties.
The military action is not about intervening in Syria’s civil war or changing its government, she said.