The US, UK and France have carried out air and missile strikes in Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack last Saturday
The US says three targets were struck – a research facility in Damascus and storage facilities near Homs
Russia said missiles were also aimed at other targets but many were intercepted by air defences
President Trump said the allies had “marshalled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality”
Russia’s president Putin condemned the strikes and called for an urgent UN meeting
The Syrian government, which denies using chemical weapons, called the strikes a flagrant violation of international law
The US has launched military strikes alongside UK and French forces aimed at reducing Syrian regime’s chemical weapons facilities in the wake of last weekend’s gas attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma.
Moments after President Donald Trump finished his address on Friday night, reports emerged of explosions in Damascus at about 2am BST. A Pentagon briefing later confirmed three sites were hit: two in Damascus and one in Homs. The sites were all regarded as linked to the storage, or testing, of chemical weapons. Syrian air defences responded to the strikes but the US said it had suffered no losses in the initial airstrikes.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has described the strikes as an “act of aggression” and said the attack would worsen the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the US, said “such actions will not be left without consequences” and that Moscow was being threatened.
Trump said the attack in Douma a week ago represented “a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use” by the Assad regime, adding: “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”
The British prime minister, Theresa May, said she authorised targeted strikes to “degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use”. Taking a swipe at Russia, she said: “We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised – within Syria, on the streets of the UK, or anywhere else in our world. We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none.”
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – a staunch ally of Bashar al-Assad – has condemned the US-led airstrikes, describing the leaders of France, the UK and the US as “criminals”.
Turkey has welcomed the strikes, describing the raids as an “appropriate response” to the use of chemical weapons in Douma last Saturday.
The US defence secretary, James Mattis, said the US, UK and France had taken “decisive action” against Syria’s chemical weapon infrastructure and did not rule out further strikes. “Clearly the Assad regime did not get the message” last time, he said, referring to the response to the Ghouta chemical attack in 2017. He said the allies had “gone to great length to avoid civil and foreign casualties”.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence said four Tornado jets flew from Cyprus as part of the strikes on Homs.
French defence ministry sources have said France fired 12 missiles from fighter jets and frigates as part of the coordinated air and sea raids.