At 4:40am, Syrian time, US President Donal Trump launched an unprecedented attack on Bashar Assad’s military airbase in Shayrat, Homs. US forces launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles aimed at destroying the airbase which US officials have said was a staging ground for the Sarin chemical attack the regime carried out in Khan Shaykhoon that killed 93 civilians on Tuesday. The attack was carried out by US warships in the East Mediterranean Sea.
“There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention, and ignored the urging of the UN security council,” President Donald Trump said.
A statement released by Pentagon Spokesman Captain Jeff Davies on the US strike in Syria stated:
“The strike was a proportional response to Assad’s heinous act. Shayrat Airfield was used to store chemical weapons and Syrian air forces. The US intelligence community assesses that aircraft from Shayrat conducted the chemical weapons attack on April 4. The strike was intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again.”
Thursday’s attack marked the first time in the now 6 year old war that a state purposefully attacked the Assad regime.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “It is very important the Russian government consider carefully their support for Bashar Assad.”
“Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. US military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield,” Captain Davis also said in his statement. If Russian authorities knew in advance about the coming airstrikes then it can only be assumed that their Syrian counterparts knew about it as well and quite possibly moved their sensitive assets from the site. No casualties have been reported as of yet resulting from the strikes.
Syrian foreign Minister Walid Muallem continued to press the narrative that Al Qaida and ISIS “and other terrorist groups are still storing chemical weapons in urban and residential sites”. Russia has been the biggest backer of the Assad regime in a war that has seen the deaths of more than a half million Syrians, much of them civilians. Russian Ambassador to the UN Vladimir Safronkov said, “All responsibility, if military action occurs, will be on the shoulders of those who initiated such a doubtful tragic enterprise.”