At a Pentagon briefing shortly after President Trump’s announcement, Gen. Joseph Dunford listed three targets that had been struck: a scientific research facility in Damascus, allegedly connected to the production of chemical and biological weapons; a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs; a chemical weapons equipment storage and an important command post, also near Homs.
Syrian state TV said government forces had shot down more than a dozen missiles, and claimed only the research facility in Damascus had been damaged.
It also said that 3 civilians had been injured in Homs.
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters there were no reports of US losses in the operation.
In his earlier address, President Donald Trump had said: “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”
However, Secretary James Mattis said that “right now, this is a one-time shot”. Gen. Joseph Dunford confirmed the wave of strikes had ended.
Gen. Joseph Dunford said the US had specifically identified targets that would “mitigate” the risk of Russian casualties. However, the Pentagon said that Russia – which has forces on the ground in Syria in support of the government – had not been given advance notice of the targets.
On the same time, UK PM Theresa May confirmed British involvement, saying there was “no practicable alternative to the use of force”.
She also said the strikes were not about “regime change”.
According to the UK ministry of defense, UK strikes carried out by four Tornado jets hit one of the targets mentioned by the Pentagon – a military site near the city of Homs which is believed to have housed precursor materials for chemical weapons.
France President Emmanuel Macron also confirmed his country’s participation in the operation.
“Dozens of men, women and children were massacred with chemical weapons,” President Macron said of the Douma incident a week ago – adding that “the red line had been crossed”.
Syria has denied carrying out the Douma attack and Russia had warned that Western military strikes would risk starting a war.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has dispatched a fact-finding mission to the site of the alleged attack in Syria. Investigators were due to start their probe on April 14.
Sana, Syria’s official state news agency, called the western action “a flagrant violation of international law”.
It said: “The American, French and British aggression against Syria will fail.”
A US official told Reuters that Tomahawk cruise missiles were being used against multiple locations in Syria.
At least 58 people, including 11 children, have been killed and dozens wounded in a suspected chemical attack in rebel-held Syrian town of Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.
The monitoring group reported that strikes on Khan Sheikhoun by Syrian government or Russian jets had caused many people to choke.
Later, aircraft fired rockets at local clinics treating survivors, doctors and activists said.
A Syrian military source denied the government had used any such weapons.
Russia’s defense ministry meanwhile insisted it had not carried out any air strikes in the vicinity.
If confirmed, it would be one of the deadliest chemical attacks in Syria’s civil war.
The warplanes are reported to have attacked Khan Sheikhoun, about 30 miles south of Idlib, on April 4, when many people were asleep.
Hussein Kayal, a photographer for the pro-opposition Edlib Media Center (EMC), told the Associated Press that he was awoken by the sound of an explosion at about 06:30.
When he reached the scene, there was no smell, he said. He found people lying on the floor, unable to move and with constricted pupils, he added.
The Syrian Observatory (SOHR) quoted doctors as saying that they had been treating people with symptoms including fainting, vomiting and foaming at the mouth.
An AFP journalist saw a young girl, a woman and two elderly people dead at a hospital, all with foam still visible around their mouths.
The journalist also reported that the same facility was hit by a rocket on April 4, bringing down rubble on top of doctors treating the injured.
The source of the projectile was not clear, but the EMC and the opposition Local Co-ordination Committees network said warplanes had targeted several clinics.
The SOHR put the death toll at 58, including 11 children, but the head of a charity ambulance service in Idlib, Mohammed Rasoul, said that 67 people had been killed and that 300 were injured.
The pro-opposition Step news agency meanwhile said 100 had died.
Sarin inhibits the action of an enzyme, which deactivates signals that cause human nerve cells to fire. This blockage pushes nerves into a continual “on” state. The heart and other muscles – including those involved in breathing – spasm.
Sufficient exposure to Sarin can lead to death via asphyxiation within minutes.
The substance is almost impossible to detect because it is a clear, colorless and tasteless liquid that has no odor in its purest form.
In January 2016, the organization said blood samples taken from the victims of one unspecified attack showed victims had been exposed to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance.
A joint investigation with the UN concluded in October that Syrian government forces had used chlorine as a weapon at least three times between 2014 and 2015.
It also found ISIS militants had used the blister agent sulphur mustard.
Human Rights Watch also recently accused government helicopters of dropping bombs containing chlorine on rebel-held areas of Aleppo on at least eight occasions between November 17 and December 13, during the final stages of the battle for the city.
Idlib province, where the air strikes took place, is almost entirely controlled by a rebel alliance and the al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
The region, home to 900,000 displaced people, is regularly targeted by the government and its ally Russia, as well as the US-led coalition against ISIS.
There was no immediate comment from the government, but a Syrian military source told Reuters that it “does not and has not” used chemical weapons.