Damascus, April 14: The US in coordination with UK and France launched strikes against Syrian research, storage and military targets as President Donald Trump sought to “punish” his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical weapon attack that claimed more than 70 lives, media reports said.
According to the New York Times report, the strikes on Friday night was intended to showcase Western resolve in the face of what the leaders of the three nations called persistent violations of international law.
“I ordered the US armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad,” Trump stated from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room.
“The combined American, British and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power: military, economic and diplomatic,” he said.
In his speech, Trump described the chemical attack in Douma as “Not the actions of a man… They are crimes of a monster instead.”
Trump indicated the strikes would continue until the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons ends, reports CNN.
He further said “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” he added.
As per the Pentagon, the strikes targeted three facilities associated with Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, including a scientific research facility around Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility around Homs alleged to be used for sarin gas and a nearby command post.
The Syrian Observatory stated the 4th Division of Syrian Army and Republican Guard were among the targets.
US plane including B-1 bombers and ships were used in the attack, US defence officials asserted.
Witnesses told CNN that they heard explosions in Damascus which began while Trump was making his address.
The city and the hills are surrounded by military facilities, and it appeared that these were among the first targets, reports The New York Times.
Syrian state television said government air defence systems were responding to “the American aggression” and showed visuals of missiles being fired into a dark night sky.
The targets were chosen to minimise the risk of accidentally hitting Russian military personnel stationed in Syria, according to Gen. James F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told media at the Pentagon on late Friday that the strike was completed and was designed as a one-night operation.
“Right now this is a one-time shot and I believe it has sent a very strong message to dissuade him to deter him from doing it again,” he said.
The strikes marked the second time that Trump has attacked Syria to punish the government after it was accused of using chemical weapons.
In April last year, America fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base in response to a chemical attack in which over 100 people were killed.
While France and Britain joined the US, Germany refused to take part, even though Chancellor Angela Merkel called the use of chemical weapons “unacceptable”, The New York Times reported.
Recating to this British Prime Minister Theresa May stated said Syria had left the allies no choice.
“This persistent pattern of behaviour must be stopped… Not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and casualties caused by chemical weapons but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of these weapons,” she added.