The U.S. military attacked a Syria-government airfield with 59 Tomahawk missiles on Thursday evening.
The missiles targeted the Shayrat air base near Homs, and were in response to a Tuesday chemical weapons attack. Officially announcing the strike, President Donald Trump said the targeted airfield had launched the chemical attack on a rebel-held area, and he called on other nations to oppose Syria’s embattled leader.
“On Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack,” Trump said Thursday night.
A U.S. defense official called the U.S. strike a “one-off,” Reuters reported. Nine civilians including four children were killed, the Syrian state news agency claimed, but the Pentagon said civilians were not targeted.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Russia had failed to carry out a 2013 agreement to secure Syrian chemical weapons, adding that Moscow was either complicit or incompetent in its ability to uphold that deal.
Tillerson said the U.S. had a high degree of confidence that sarin nerve gas had been used in Tuesday’s chemical attack in northern Syria.
The Pentagon released details on the strike, saying it was conducted using Tomahawk missiles launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the eastern Mediterranean.