The U.S. military hit three sites in Syria overnight believed to be critical sites in the Syrian government’s chemical weapons program infrastructure. According to U.S. officials all three sites were destroyed. Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr, during a briefing this morning from the Pentagon, said the strikes “will significantly impact the Syrian regime’s effort to develop, deploy and use chemical weapons in the future.”
The U.S. along with British and French forces destroyed the three sites believed to be vital to Syria’s chemical weapons program. They were two storage facilities west of the city of Homs and a scientific research center located in the greater Damascus area. That target was a center for research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology, according to U.S. officials.
A total of 105 weapons, mainly Tomahawk cruise missiles, were fired from a variety of platforms including bombers, fighters and naval ships at 9 p.m. EST last night, 4 a.m. Syrian local time. The strikes originated from assets in the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Northern Arabian Gulf, according to McKenzie. All ships returned safely to their bases and there were no allied casualties.
McKenzie said that there was no indication that Russian air defense systems were employed. Russia is Syria’s largest benefactor and closest military ally.
Forty Syrian surface-to-air missiles were launched by the regime but most of the launches seemed to have occurred after the last impact of coalition strikes was over, according to McKenzie. It’s also believed many of the missiles were shot without guidance. The indiscriminate response, McKenzie said, was ineffective and increased risk to the Syrian people.
“If you shoot iron into the air without guidance, it’s going to come down somewhere,” he said.
There were no reports of Syrian casualties.
Asked whether the coalition strikes were going to be sustained, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said that was up to the Assad regime. “What happens going forward has everything to do with the Assad regime. We sent a very clear message last night, and we hope that he heard it,” she said.
President Trump tweeted his appreciation for the U.S. military, as well as allied forces this morning. “A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!” he wrote.
Photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith via the Joint Chiefs of Staff