Explosions are being heard to the east, west and south of Damascus as the U.S., U.K. and France conduct airstrikes in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government on its own people.
President Donald Trump announced Friday night that the U.S., France and Britain have launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians and to deter him from doing it again.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement that France’s “red line has been crossed” after a suspected chemical attack last week in the Syrian town of Douma.
The British defense ministry said “initial indications” show that the airstrikes against Syria produced a “successful attack” on a Syrian military facility.
While the effectiveness of the strike is still being analyzed, “initial indications are that the precision of the Storm Shadow weapons and meticulous target planning have resulted in a successful attack,” the ministry said in a statement.
British Prime Minister Theresa May described the attack as neither “about intervening in a civil war” nor “about regime change,” but a limited and targeted strike that “does not further escalate tensions in the region” and does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.
May said, “We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none.”
In a Facebook post, the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov said, “A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences. All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.”
Witnesses reported seeing blasts surrounding much of the Syrian capital and a huge fire could be seen from a distance to the east. An Associated Press reporter in Damascus said the attacks turned the sky orange. Syrian television reported that a scientific research center had been hit.
Syrian media reported that Syrian defenses hit 13 rockets south of Damascus. After the attack ceased and the early morning skies went dark once more, vehicles with loudspeakers roamed the streets of Damascus blaring nationalist songs.