The United States on Friday announced it approved precision military strikes on Syria after alleging that the Assad regime used chemical weapons in a recent attack in the country.
The size of the strike was twice the size of the U.S. assault last year. Fox News confirmed that warships and U.S. Air Force B-1 bombers were used in Friday’s bombing campaign.
The B-1 bombers flew out of Qatar and have the ability to fire from 600 miles away. U.S. guided-missile destroyers can launch Tomahawk cruise missiles with a maximum range of 1,500 miles.
President Trump called the assault “a combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom.” The U.S. said Russia was not notified about the strike.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said no follow-up attacks are planned. He said the Pentagon was careful to ensure the safety of Russian troops and Syrian civilians in the area. There were three targets in the strikes as opposed to the single airbase in last year’s assault.
“Clearly the Assad regime did not get the message last year,” Mattis said. “This time our allies and we have struck harder.”
Mattis said the U.S. intelligence has determined that the Syrian government used chlorine gas in last Saturday’s poison attack.
Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., said a pre-designed scenario is being implemented.
“Again, we are being threatened,” he said. “We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences. All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.”
Trump, in the meantime, touted the support of two major allies who also blame the chemical attacks on Assad.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the operation was targeting the “clandestine chemical arsenal.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said she “authorized British armed forces to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use.”
Trump’s announcement immediately preceded reports of loud explosions lighting up the sky in Damascus, the Syrian capital.
Syrian TV reported that Syrian air defenses responded to the U.S.-British-French attack. There have been multiple strikes against at least two sites, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said late Friday from the Pentagon.
“Important infrastructure was destroyed,” Dunford said, noting that sites associated with the Syrian chemical weapons program were both “targeted and destroyed.”
Trump said the U.S. is prepared to “sustain” pressure on Assad until he ends what the president called a criminal pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons.
At least 40 people died in the chemical attack in Douma last Saturday, about 10 miles east of Damascus, and over 500 people, mostly women and children, were injured and brought to medical centers.
The attack occurred amid a resumed offensive by Syrian government forces after the collapse of a truce. Syrian activists, rescuers and medics said families suffocated in their homes.
Assad’s actions, Trump said, “are not the actions of a man,” but “are the crimes of a monster instead.”
A similar chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017 that killed nearly 100 people prompted the U.S. to launch dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield to dissuade Assad from using chemical weapons in the future, officials said. But during the weekend, images of dead and sick women and children again circulated following another alleged chemical attack.
Trump also hit Russia and Iran for their sustained support of the Assad regime.
“The nations of the world can be judged by the friends that they keep,” he continued. “Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or continue with civilized nations.”