US: Airstrikes target Syrian chemical programme


US Defence Secretary James Mattis says the US, along with the UK and France,┬áhave taken “decisive action” against the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons infrastructure.

Mr Mattis and General Joe Dunford briefed reporters at the Pentagon an hour after President Donald Trump announced the strikes.

Airstrikes by the US, UK and France were launched at 2am UK time and destroyed infrastructure at three sites connected to Syria’s chemical weapons programme near Damascus.

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Mr Mattis said double the number of weapons were used in the strikes compared with similar attacks on Syria carried out last year.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis (R) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Joseph Dunford (L)
Image: US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis (R) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Joseph Dunford (L)

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the first was at a scientific research centre in greater Damascus, involved in the development and production of chemical warfare.

The second was at a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs, while the third was at a chemical equipment storage facility and important command post.

He added: “Important infrastructure was destroyed which will result in a set-back for the Syrian regime. They will lose years of research and development, storage and equipment.”

RAF Tornados return to RAF Akrotiri after a sortie on December 3, 2015 in Akrotiri, Cyprus. The British Parilament voted 397 to 223 yesterday in favor of joining international airstrikes in Syria.
Image: RAF Tornados were involved in the strikes, the MoD says

Gen Dunford described the operation as a “one time shot” and said there had been no reports of any allied losses.

Syrian surface to air missile batteries had attempted to fire back, but there were no initial reports of allied losses, he added.

The Ministry of Defence said four Royal Air Force Tornados contributed to the strikes by launching Storm Shadow missiles at a former missile base 15 miles west of Homs.

A RAF pilot checking the weapons on his Tornado. Pic: Ministry of Defence
Image: An RAF pilot checking the weapons on a Tornado used in the operation. Pic: MoD

It said “initial indications” show that the airstrikes produced a “successful attack” on the military facility.

Mr Mattis did not confirm how many missiles hit their targets but said no additional attacks were planned.

“We were very precise and proportionate, but at the same time, it was a heavy strike,” he said.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said that “scientific research centres” and “several military bases” were hit in the strikes.

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From – SkyNews