Five things to know about the US-led strikes in Syria

The US and allies launched an early morning attack on Syria’s suspected chemical weapons sites.

The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea launches a Tomahawk cruise missile while conducting strike missions against ISIL targets from the Gulf
US officials said the strikes hit three targets [Anadolu]

The United States and allies have responded to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against the rebel-held town of Douma with missile strikes.

US President Donald Trump announced he ordered air strikes in Syria “on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities”, in collaboration with the UK and France.

The strikes mark the second time Trump ordered attacks against Syria to punish Assad’s government.

Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, pledged to retaliate for what it described as a “fabricated” chemical gas attack.

What was the objective of the attack?

Trump said “the purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons.” 

Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, said his country joined the US and UK because Assad’s government had crossed a “red line” with the alleged attack on Douma. 

“Our response has been limited to hitting the capacities of the Syrian regime that permit the production and use of chemical weapons,” said Macron.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the Assad government’s use of chemical weapons was “persistent” and must be stopped to protect innocent lives in Syria.

How many missiles were fired? 

The US and its allies launched more than 100 missiles on Syria in a “one-time shot”, according to the Pentagon.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis and Marine General Joseph Dunford said chemical weapons facilities were targeted by missiles fired from the sea and from aircraft.

The Pentagon could not confirm how many missiles hit their targets.

The Russian military said Syria’s defence systems shot down 71 out of the 103 cruise missiles launched in the attack.

Russia’s Colonel General Sergei Rudoski said the strikes did not cause any casualties and that the Syrian military facilities suffered minor damage.

What type of missiles were fired?

The US used Tomahawk cruise missiles in its strikes in Syria, which were fired at multiple targets in the country, a US official said.

Tomahawk missiles were used in previous US attacks in Syria last year in response to the use of chemical weapons in the rebel-held Khan Sheikhoun town of Idlib province.

“According to unofficial sources, the US deployed several [carrier groups] with cruise missiles in the Mediterranean and Red seas,” said Fuad Shahbazov, a security and military expert based in Azerbaijan.

Britain’s defence ministry said four British Tornado jets fired Storm Shadow missiles at a Syrian base 24km west of Homs. 

Florence Parly, France’s defence minister, said France provided warships in the Mediterranean Sea and sent in fighter jets stationed at airbases in France. 

Reuters news agency, citing a French presidency source, said French Mirage and Rafale fighter jets were involved in the strikes on Syria, along with four frigate warships. 

What were the targets?

Dunford added the “precision strikes” hit three targets.

The first target was a scientific research centre near the capital Damascus and was used for researching, developing, producing and testing “chemical and biological warfare technology”, Dunford said. 

The second was a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs.

The third, also located near Homs, contained a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and “an important command post”, Dunford added.

What is Russia’s response?

Russia’s ambassador to the US warned that there would be consequences for the strikes, adding that it was not acceptable to insult Russia’s president.

“A pre-designed scenario is being implemented,” Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said on Twitter.

“Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences.”

“Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible. The US – the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons – has no moral right to blame other countries.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies