The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations against Syria while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. U.S. Navy Photo
The United States fired 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria Thursday from two U.S. Navy ships in what President Trump says in direct retaliation for the Bashar Assad regime’s April 4 chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians in Syria.
President Trump ordered the strikes on the Al-Shayrat Air Base, the base from which the chemical attack on Syria’s Idlib province was launched. The missiles were launched from U.S. Navy destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
The missile strikes are the first direct attack by the U.S. against the Assad Regime since the Syrian civil war began more than six years ago.
President Trump went on national television Thursday night to announce the attack to the American people.
“Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians,” Trump said in a statement to the nation. “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.”
Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis later issued a statement with details of the strike, which took place at about 8:40 p.m. EDT — 4:40 a.m. April 7 in Syria, he said. The DoD also released photos and video of the missile launches:
“As always,” Davis said, “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.”
Davis said that Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line and U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel at the airfield.
“We are assessing the results of the strike,” Davis said. “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.”