Loud blasts were heard in downtown Damascus in the eastern part of the city Friday evening as the U.S, Britain, and France destroyed chemical warfare facilities in Syria.
Israel has provided the U.S. with intelligence on targets but wanted no part of this fight. B1 bombers were used, joining warships. No additional attacks are planned at this time.
The first wave lasted about 15 minutes and hit a “scientific research center”, according to the Pentagon this evening. Targets were pinpointed to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons capability. It inflicted maximum damage with minimal risk to civilians.
The Pentagon said the research center was a Syrian center for biological warfare research. The other attacks were in a facility used to develop chemical weapons in Homs and a third attack was on a chemical weapons storage facility and a key command post.
They chose those targets to also avoid Russian targets. They did not notify the Russians of the attack beforehand, according to the Pentagon.
Secretary Mattis said Syria absolutely launched the chemical attack on their own people and at least one chemical agent was used.
An unconfirmed report out of the Middle East says the airport in Damascus is completely destroyed.
The antiquated Syrian air force engaged at the onset of the strike and Syrian state TV claims they shot down 13 Tomahawk missiles. The Pentagon could not confirm that.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 14, 2018
The President’s Address
The president talked about Bashar al-Assad this evening in his address, calling him a “monster”. He spoke directly to Russia and Iran, asking them why would they associate with monsters.
President Trump does not want the military in the region for long but no timeline was given. His goal is to discourage any use of chemical weapons.
Allies Joined the U.S.
Britain and France joined the United States in the attack, described as a “precision attack”. President Macron of France said Syria is guilty of launching chemical attacks on his own people and they have crossed France’s redline.
British Prime Minister issued a statement published by the NY Times:
This evening I have authorized British armed forces to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use. We are acting together with our American and French allies.
In Douma, last Saturday a chemical weapons attack killed up to 75 people, including young children, in circumstances of pure horror. The fact of this attack should surprise no one. The Syrian Regime has a history of using chemical weapons against its own people in the cruelest and abhorrent way.
And a significant body of information including intelligence indicates the Syrian Regime is responsible for this latest attack. This persistent pattern of behavior must be stopped — not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and casualties caused by chemical weapons but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of these weapons. We have sought to use every possible diplomatic channel to achieve this.
But our efforts have been repeatedly thwarted. Even this week the Russians vetoed a Resolution at the UN Security Council which would have established an independent investigation into the Douma attack. So there is no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Regime. This is not about intervening in a civil war. It is not about regime change. It is about a limited and targeted strike that does not further escalate tensions in the region and that does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties. And while this action is specifically about deterring the Syrian Regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity.