B-1 bombers, Tornado jets target Damascus: What we know about US strikes on Syria | world news | Hindustan Times
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B-1 bombers, Tornado jets target Damascus: What we know about US strikes on Syria

Huge blasts were reported around Damascus early on Saturday, moments after Donald Trump announced that the US, France, and Britain were launching air strikes targeting Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities.

world Updated: Apr 14, 2018 14:59 IST
A photo released on the twitter page of the Syrian government’s central military media on April 14, 2018 shows an explosion on the outskirts of Damascus after Western strikes reportedly hit Syrian military bases and chemical research centres in and around the capital.
A photo released on the twitter page of the Syrian government’s central military media on April 14, 2018 shows an explosion on the outskirts of Damascus after Western strikes reportedly hit Syrian military bases and chemical research centres in and around the capital. (AFP Photo)

The United States, Britain and France launched strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack after mulling military action for nearly a week.

Targets

The strikes were aimed at “chemical weapons infrastructure” in what the US billed as a warning against Assad employing such weapons in the future -- a warning he has not heeded in the past. (Live updates)

They targeted a scientific research facility in the Damascus area, a chemical weapons storage facility west of the city of Homs and a third location that contained both a command post and a chemical weapons equipment storage facility in the same area, the US military said.

AFP’s correspondent in Damascus said several consecutive blasts were heard at 4:00 am, followed by the sound of air planes overhead. Smoke could be seen rising from the northern and eastern edges of the capital.

British jets struck “a former missile base... where the regime is assessed to keep chemical weapon precursors,” the country’s defence ministry said, while France said the military action was aimed at “the secret chemical arsenal of the Syrian regime.”

Damascus is seen as the US launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the capital early Saturday. (AP Photo)

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said that “scientific research centres” and “several military bases” were hit in the strikes.

Assets involved

US, British and French “naval and air assets” took part in the strikes, which US defence chief James Mattis said employed more than twice the amount of munitions used in American strikes in Syria last year, in which 59 Tomahawk missiles were fired.

Britain’s defence ministry said that four Tornado jets fired Storm Shadow missiles, while the French defence ministry released video footage of Rafale warplanes taking off to carry out the strikes.

The US reportedly used B-1 bombers in the strikes, but the American military declined to provide specifics.

This photograph obtained April 14, 2018 from the Twitter account of French defence minister, Florence Parly, shows French military aircraft ahead of strikes on Syrian military bases and research centres in Damascus. (AFP Photo)

Reaction

Syria fired surface-to-air missiles in response to the attacks but Russia apparently did not, the US said, despite a threat from the country’s ambassador to Lebanon that Moscow’s forces would do so.

Syrian state news termed the strikes “a flagrant violation of international law” and said the intervention “is doomed to fail.”

Russia’s foreign ministry said the strikes came as Syria -- which has been wracked by seven years of civil war -- had “a chance of a peaceful future,” while Moscow’s ambassador to Washington warned of unspecified “consequences”.

Damascus skies erupt with anti-aircraft fire as the US launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the Syrian capital Damascus. (AP Photo)

And opposition American Democratic lawmakers warned that any broader military campaign required authorization from Congress, as well as a well-formulated strategic vision.