“I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad,” Trump said late Friday at the White House.
The strikes were launched at 9 p.m. ET, as most of Europe and the Middle East was shrouded in darkness. Photos showed missiles streaking over the night sky in Syria, and witnesses told CNN they heard explosions in the capital Damascus as Trump was making his address.
The Syrian Armed Forces said in a statement that 110 missiles were fired on Syrian targets and that the country’s defense systems “intercepted most of the missiles, but some hit targets including the Research Center in Barzeh.”
Russia’s news agency TASS reported that none of the missiles fired by the three western nations struck areas near its naval and air bases in Syria. Those bases come under the protection of Russian air defense units.
- The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on Syria on Saturday morning.
- Three civilians were wounded in Homs after “several” missiles were intercepted by Syria air defense systems, Syria State TV said.
- US Defense Secretary James Mattis said “right now this is a one-time shot and I believe that it sent a very strong message” to the Syrian regime.
- Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the US strikes had hit the Syrian capital when the country “finally” had a chance at peace.
- Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned the strikes. “The attack is the blatant violation of international laws, as well as ignoring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said according to Iran’s state news agency.
- Australia’s defense minister issued a statement in support of the strikes, calling them “a calibrated, proportionate and targeted response.”
Three chemical sites targeted
US defense and military officials told CNN that aircraft, including B-1 bombers, and at least three US Navy warship based in the Red Sea, participated in the strikes. The USS Monterey, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, launched Tomahawk missiles as part of the strike, according to a Pentagon release.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing that the first allied strike targeted a scientific research center in greater Damascus involved in the development and production of chemical weapons.