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BREAKING: Syrian military base on fire as US launches 59 airstrikes against Assad

The US has carried out a missile attack against an air base in Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town.

According to The Pentagon, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at 04:40 Syrian time (01:40 GMT) from destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean.

In a statement it said missiles fired from Navy destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross had targeted aircraft, aircraft shelters, storage areas, ammunition supply bunkers, air defence systems, and radars at Shayrat airfield in western Homs province.

The Pentagon added that the strike was intended “to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again”.

In a televised address, President Donald Trump said the base was the launch point for the chemical attack.

He called on “all civilised nations” to help end the conflict in Syria.

Dozens of civilians, including many children, died in the suspected nerve gas attack on Tuesday in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.

Speaking from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Mr Trump branded Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a “dictator” who had “launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians”.

Mr Trump said he had acted in America’s “vital national security interest” to prevent the use of chemical weapons.

The Kremlin, which is supporting the Syrian government, has not yet commented on the US attack, but senior lawmakers have warned it could undermine the fight against terrorism.

“This [strike] could be viewed as an act of aggression of the US against a UN nation,” Viktor Ozerov, the head of the Federation Council’s defence committee, was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.

The Pentagon said the Russian military had been informed ahead of the US action.

It did not give details of damage or casualties but the governor of Homs province, Talal Barazi, said there had been deaths and parts of the base were on fire.

“It will take some time to determine the extent of the damage,” Barazi told AFP news agency.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said at least four Syrian soldiers had been killed.

 

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