United States has launched a deadly airstrike against a Syrian air base in response to Syrian government’s horrific nerve gas attack which killed more than 80 people.
The US military fired 59 tomahawk missiles at the Assad-controlled al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs at 8.45pm (EDT) on Thursday, killing dozens of people.
President Trump, speaking from his Mar-a-Lago estate where he is hosting the Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng as part of a two day summit, said the US had to act after the Syrian dictator launched the ‘horrible chemical weapons attack’ on innocent civilians.
‘Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack,’ he said. ‘It was a slow and brutal death for so many.’
Pentagon officials said that the airfield was being used to store chemical weapons and was a base for Syrian air forces.
“Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian Government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters on Thursday night that the strike did not represent a “change in our policy or our posture in Syria,” even though the Thursday night strike marked the first time the US had decided to take military action against the Syrian government.
“There has been no change in that status,” he said. “It does demonstrate that President Trump is willing to act when governments and actors cross the line … and cross the line in the most heinous of ways.”
But the military action has already sparked a furious response from Vladimir Putin, who this morning called the airstrikes an ‘illegal act of aggression’. The Russian President, who has backed Assad militarily, warned of grave damage to relations between Washington and Moscow which are already ‘in ruins’.
Russia has called for a meeting of the UN security council to discuss the US strikes. Russia also says it is suspending its agreement to communicate with the US over the use of Syrian airspace.