In the first wave, the three allies targeted the Mezza military airport outside Damascus, Arzza and the Jamarya “research center” formerly struck by Israel, also two chemical sites near Homs. President Donald Trump said he had approved US military precision strikes against Syria in collaboration with the UK and France in response to a chemical attack that killed more than 70 people. Trump spoke in a television statement early Saturday, April 14, as explosions were heard in Damascus. Syria reported intercepting at least 13 incoming missiles. Russia said the action would not be left “without consequences.” Trump explained that the strikes would target the regime’s ability to use chemical weapons and the three allies were willing to carry out “sustained pressure on Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, until he agreed not to use chemical weapons in the future.” He also condemned Russia and Iran for propping up the Syrian regime.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the US-led missile and helicopter strikes also hit Syrian and Hizballah military sites near the Al Dumeir air base, 40km west of Damascus in the Qalamoun Mountains, where the two armies have built underground installations. The strikes were evidently the first wave of the joint operation in Syria. Washington, London and Paris may now await Russian and Iranian responses before deciding on how to proceed next.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May issued her own statement confirming she had ordered airstrikes to punish the Syrian regime’s “cruel and abhorrent” behavior. She said the move was not about regime change or “intervening” in the civil war but stopping the “erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of these weapons.” French President Emmanuel Macron said: “We cannot tolerate the normalization of the use of chemical weapons.” Syrian state TV said the attack was being confronted by the pro-Damascus “anti-terror axis.” The response from Tehran threatened “consequences” – both regional and international.