The United States military has launched over 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Syria, according to multiple reports. The attack is a direct response to a Syrian sarin gas attack on its own civilian population.
Turkish officials said that a fixed-wing aircraft dropped munitions carrying sarin onto an underground hospital, killing at least 86, according to ABC News. Sarin, a nerve agent, is known to be extremely deadly, causing a breakdown of a person’s entire nervous system in as little as a minute. Exposure to high doses of sarin eventually result in loss of consciousness, convulsions, paralysis, and finally respiratory failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Footage (warning: graphic) claimed to be from the aftermath of the attack showed men, women, and children slain in place. Survivors were gasping for breath:
Syria made a big show of “giving up” its chemical weapons in 2014, but that action has now clearly been shown to be a lie.
President Donald Trump has criticized attacking Syria in the past without Congressional approval, and it does not appear such approval was sought in this instance:
Tonight, Trump took a different path:
President Trump, despite the invocation of divine wisdom, has not yet lifted a ban on Syrian refugees.
The attack by the U.S. Navy on Syria targeted planes, hangars, and runways at a Syrian military airfield, according to Bloomberg, and “about 60" missiles were fired from the destroyers USS Ross and USS Porter in the Mediterranean Sea.
A later Pentagon statement said that 59 Tomahawks were launched against Shayrat airfield:
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.
This isn’t the first time Tomahawks, which can be launched from the air, sea, or ground, have been used in the Middle East. In service since the 1980s, they have a range of over 1,000 miles, and in 2014 Tomahawks were similarly launched against Islamic State targets from U.S. Navy destroyers:
Shayrat, located outside the devastated Syrian city of Homs, is home to two runways and multiple hangars, according to satellite photos:
The satellite images appear to show multiple Sukhoi Su-22 “Fitter” ground attack aircraft, which may have been used in the attack:
The Russian military, which has been propping up Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, was reportedly informed of the American strike before it occurred. Which is good, as a swarm of 60 cruise missiles suddenly appearing on radar heading into the country where you’re flying aircraft and maintaining bases can be a bit alarming.
At the same time, Stars & Stripes reporter Tara Copp says that Russians used the base as well:
And it would be pretty damn surprising if Russia had no idea chemical weapons were being used at a base it also utilized.
Chinese President Xi Jinping was also well-informed of the strike:
More as we have it.
UPDATE 12:19 AM: And, of course they did: