The United States and its allies France and the United Kingdom fired more than 100 missiles at Syria on Friday in a “one-time shot” the Pentagon said. The attack follows evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for a chemical weapons attack using at least chlorine gas.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Marine General Joseph Dunford said: three main chemical weapons facilities were targeted at 9 p.m. EST (1 a.m. GMT) by missiles from both the sea and aircraft, which triggered Syrian air defenses.
Mattis and Dunford stated the strike was designed to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capability without killing civilians or the many foreign fighters in Syria’s multi-sided civil war, particularly those from Russia.
“We specifically identified these targets to mitigate the risk of Russian forces being involved,” Dunford told reporters, adding the U.S. military advised Russia of airspace that would be used in the strike but did not “pre-notify them.”
Last year, the United States only waged strikes in Syria after determining that more deadly sarin gas was used. Some U.S. media had said Washington was confident Assad had also used sarin on April 7.
— William Spencer (@WilliamMSpencer) April 14, 2018
One of the targets was a scientific research center located in the greater Damascus area, which it described as a Syrian center for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological weaponry. The second target was a chemical weapons storage facility west of the city of Homs. The third target, which was also near Homs, contained both a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and a command post.
“We were very precise and proportionate,” Mattis said. “But at the same time, it was a heavy strike.”
Last year, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from the guided missile destroyers USS Porter and the USS Ross struck Syria’s Shayrat air base.