By Prudence Arobani/New York
The U.S. fired about 60 Tomahawk missiles into Syria early today in retaliation against the regime of Bashar al-Assad for using nerve agents to attack civilians, U.S. Department of Defense said.
The Department said President Donald Trump ordered the attack on Al-Shayrat Air Base, the base from which the chemical attack on Syria’s Idlib province was launched.
The statement by Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis, obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria, said the missiles were launched from U.S. Navy ships in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
“At the direction of the president, U.S. forces conducted a cruise missile strike against a Syrian Air Force airfield today at about 8:40 p.m. EDT (4:40 a.m., April 7, in Syria).
“The strike targeted Shayrat Airfield in Homs governorate, and were in response to the Syrian government’s chemical weapons attack April 4 in Khan Sheikhoun, which killed and injured hundreds of innocent Syrian people, including women and children.
“The strike was conducted using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
“A total of 59 TLAMs targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars.
“As always, the U.S. took extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties and to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict. Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield.
“The strike was a proportional response to Assad’s heinous act. Shayrat Airfield was used to store chemical weapons and Syrian air forces.
“The U.S. intelligence community assesses that aircraft from Shayrat conducted the chemical weapons attack on April 4. The strike was intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again.
“Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.
“We are assessing the results of the strike. 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.
“The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated,” the statement said, adding the attack is in retaliation for the Syrian dictator for using banned chemical agents in the April 4 attack.
Trump, in a statement to the nation on the Syrian gas attack, had described the incident as deplorable.
“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. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”
“It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” the president said.
“No one disputes that Syria used banned chemical weapons of the people of Idlib. This is a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Syria also ignored United Nations Security Council resolutions.
“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically.
“As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies,” Trump had said.
Trump called on all civilized nations to join the United States in seeking an end to the slaughter in Syria, and to end the threat terrorism posed in the blighted country.