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Dozens of cruise missiles were launched by the United States on Thursday night at a Syrian airfield in response to Syria’s use of banned chemical weapons that killed at least 100 people.
Reports from U.S. military officials say that two U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk missiles intended for a single target. The target was Ash Sha'irat in Homs province in western Syria. The airfield is believed to have been used by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to fire the deadly weapons.
The U.S. officials also revealed that there was no immediate word on casualties and that people were not targeted. However, the officials reported that aircraft and infrastructure at the site were hit, including the runway and gas fuel pumps.
President Donald Trump made a statement from Mar-a-Lago saying that Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children, adding that it is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. President Trump also called on other countries to end the bloodshed in Syria. The Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster traveled to Florida with President Trump.
Reports from Syrian television characterized the missile strike as American aggression Friday morning. However, Ahrar Al Sham which is the largest Syrian armed rebel group said that it welcomes any U.S. intervention through surgical strikes that would deter the Assad regime capabilities to kill civilians and shorten the suffering of our people.
Syria has been blamed by Tillerson and Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, for the chemical weapons attack which claimed the lives of least 25 children. Tillerson said on Thursday that there is no doubt that the Syrian regime was responsible for the attack.
Defense Secretary James Mattis briefed President Donald Trump on U.S. military options, which included carrying out targeted strikes against those responsible for Tuesday's attack. There is no immediate reaction from Russia, which Tillerson and Haley have accused of turning a blind eye to Syria's transgressions.
Haley said at the United Nations that Russia cannot escape responsibility for the deadly attack, adding that they chose to close their eyes to the barbarity and that they defied the conscience of the world.
Tillerson has also urged Russia to carefully consider its continued support of the Assad regime.