Initial reports indicate Syrian airbase ‘almost completely destroyed’ after US strike
The Syrian airfield targeted by United States airstrikes early Friday was “almost completely destroyed,” a human rights group in the country said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the missile attack damaged over a dozen hangars, a fuel depot and an air defense base. About 60 U.S. Tomahawk missiles hit the Shayrat air base, southeast of Homs, a small installation with two runways. At least seven Syrian soldiers were killed and nine wounded in the airstrike, the country’s military said. The governor of Homs province said he did not believe the strikes caused a large number of “human casualties.”
A Syrian official the attack caused deaths and a fire, but did not elaborate. The U.S. missiles hit at 3:45 a.m. local time in Syria. Syrian state TV called the attack an “aggression” that lead to “losses.” “Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield. Reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons,” Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said.
Davis said the U.S. was still assessing the result of the 59 Tomahawks it fired, expressing hope that Assad’s government learned a lesson. He said it was ultimately “the regime’s choice” if more U.S. military action would be needed.
Syria’s state TV showed footage of a fast sequence of orange flashes that lit the dark sky in the distance before the crack of dawn. The shaky footage, apparently filmed with a mobile phone camera and aired Friday, came hours after about 60 U.S. Tomahawk missiles hit the base in Homs province, causing extensive damage to the base. The Syrian TV station al-Ikhbariyah showed another short clip of smoke billowing in the distance, hovering over a raging fire, the tip of which emerges and a forest of trees is in the foreground. The U.S. launched nearly five dozen cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians.
The first direct assault on the Damascus government since the beginning of that country’s bloody civil war in 2011. U.S. officials called the airstrike a “one-off” and said there are no plans for escalation. The U.S. airstrike in Syria was an “aggression against a sovereign state” and in violation of international law, the Kremlin said in a statement.
The head of information policy commission in the upper house of Russian parliament, Alexei Pushkov, said on Twitter that if Trump launches a military action in Syria it would put him in “the same league with Bush and Obama.” President Trump on Thursday called for all “civilized nations” to join the U.S. “in seeking to end this slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.” A survivor of the chemical attack in a northern Syrian town says he hopes the U.S. missile attack could help put an end to Syrian government airstrikes, creating a safe area for civilians.