US, France and UK launch strikes on Syria over chemical weapons attack
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Friday ordered precision strikes targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons capabilities, as explosions were heard in the Syrian capital of Damascus.
Trump said a combined operation with France and Britain was under way and that they were prepared to sustain the response until Syria stopped its use of chemical weapons. The operation by the three allies came after a poison gas attack in Syria that killed at least 60 people last week.
"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 US official told Reuters the strikes were aimed at multiple targets and involved Tomahawk cruise missiles.
"These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead," Trump said referring to Assad and his suspected role in the chemical weapons attacks.
Loud explosions rocked Syria's capital and filled the sky with heavy smoke (AP Photo)
"The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons," Trump said.
The US president had sharply critical words for both Russia and Iran, which have backed Assad's government.
"To Iran and to Russia, I ask, what kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?" 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."
The military action is not about intervening in Syria's civil war or changing its government, she said.
President Emmanuel Macron said that France had joined the US and Britain in an ongoing operation against Syria with strikes to target "the capacities of the Syrian regime to produce and use chemical weapons".
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a scientific research centre and military bases in Damascus were struck in the attack by the United States and allies.
The Syrian army's Republican Guard and 4th Division, elite units of the Syrian military, were struck in the attack.