WASHINGTON/BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.S., British and French forces struck Syria with more than 100 missiles on Saturday in the first coordinated Western strikes against the Damascus government, targeting what they said were chemical weapons sites in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced the military action from the White House, saying the three allies had “marshaled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality”.
Later he tweeted: “Mission accomplished”.
The bombing represents a major escalation in the West’s confrontation with Assad’s superpower ally Russia, but is unlikely to alter the course of a multi-sided war that has killed at least half a million people in the past seven years.
That in turn raises the question of where Western countries go from here, after a volley of strikes denounced by Damascus and Moscow as at once both reckless and pointless.
By morning, the Western countries said their bombing was over for now. Syria released video of the wreckage of a bombed-out research lab, but also of President Bashar al-Assad arriving at work as usual, with the caption “Morning of resilience”.
There were no immediate reports of casualties. Damascus’s allies saying the buildings hit had been evacuated in advance.
Russia had promised to respond to any attack on its ally, and said on Saturday that Syrian air defenses had intercepted 71 of the missiles fired.
But the Pentagon said the United States had “deconfliction” contacts with Russia before and after the strikes, that Syrian air defense systems had been largely ineffective and there was no