U.S. Launches Missiles at Syrian Base After Chemical Weapons Attack

U.S. Launches Missiles at Syrian Base After Chemical Weapons Attack, by Courtney Kube.

The United States launched dozens of cruise missiles Thursday night at a Syrian airfield in response to what it believes was Syria’s use of banned chemical weapons that killed at least 100 people, U.S. military officials told NBC News.

Two U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk missiles intended for a single target — Ash Sha’irat in Homs province in western Syria, the officials said. That’s the airfield from which the United States believes the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fired the banned weapons. …

“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” President Donald Trump said in remarks from Mar-a-Lago, his family compound in Palm Beach, Florida.

“It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” said Trump, who called on other countries to end the bloodshed in Syria. …

Tillerson told reporters on Thursday that “there is no doubt in our minds” that the Syrian regime was responsible for the attack. And in a combative speech at the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, Haley warned: “When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action.” …

There was no immediate reaction from Russia, which Tillerson and Haley have accused of turning a blind eye to Syria’s transgressions.

“Russia cannot escape responsibility for this,” Haley said at the United Nations. “They chose to close their eyes to the barbarity. They defied the conscience of the world.”

Donald Trump launches cruise missiles over Syria airfield, by Cameron Stewart.

The Pentagon has said the airfield was completely destroyed. Howver the missiles did not hit sections of the base where the Russians were believed to be present, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said. Capt Davis said the US military had “multiple” conversations with Russian forces on Thursday before the strike, using a line of communication that had previously been established to prevent an accidental clash in Syria during the fight against Islamic State. …

The Lowy Institute’s Middle East expert, Rodger Shanahan, said it appeared to be a “proportionate” and “low-risk” response to the chemical attack in Syria.

“At the moment its a proportionate response and a pretty targeted and rapid response so you would assume they are working off pretty hard intelligence,” he told The Australian.

He said he did not expect it to escalate tensions between Russia and the United States.

“it’s pretty low risk…the Russians would probably privately acknowledge that. I think the Russians will live with it,” he said.

Dr Shanahan said it was important the strikes had a “causal link” with the chemical attacks, which killed over 80 people including children.

“It’s targeted at specific military installations. The airbase from which the US evidently believes the (chemical) attacks were launched from. So there’s a causal link between the response and the incident. And the use of cruise missiles so you don’t have to go into Syrian airspace with live aircraft,” he said.