US, British and French forces have hammered Syria with air strikes in response to a poison gas attack that killed dozens of people last week, in the biggest intervention by Western powers in Syria’s civil war.
US President Donald Trump announced the military action from the White House late on Friday. As he spoke, explosions rocked Damascus.
Trump said he was prepared to sustain the response until the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stopped its use of chemical weapons.
The intervention was the biggest strike by Western powers against Assad in the country’s seven-year-old civil war and pitted the United States and its allies against Russia, which itself intervened in the war in 2015 to back Assad.
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“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.
At least six loud explosions were heard in Damascus in the early hours of Saturday and smoke was seen rising over the Syrian capital, a Reuters witness said.
A second witness said the Barzah district of Damascus had been hit in the strikes. Barzah is the location of a major Syrian scientific research centre.