Multiple government targets in Syria have been bombed in an early morning operation launched by the US, UK and France targeting alleged chemical weapons sites.
The strikes follow a suspected chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma last week.
According to the Pentagon, explosions hit the capital, Damascus, as well as two locations near the city of Homs.
Meanwhile, Russian ambassador to the US responded by saying the attack on its ally “will not be left without consequences”.
President Trump said in an address to the nation from the White House at about 21:00 local time: “A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is now under way.”
The wave of strikes is the most significant attack against President Bashar al-Assad’s government by western powers in seven years of Syria’s civil war.
At a Pentagon briefing shortly after President Trump’s announcement, Gen. Joseph Dunford listed three targets that had been struck: a scientific research facility in Damascus, allegedly connected to the production of chemical and biological weapons; a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs; a chemical weapons equipment storage and an important command post, also near Homs.
Syrian state TV said government forces had shot down more than a dozen missiles, and claimed only the research facility in Damascus had been damaged.
It also said that 3 civilians had been injured in Homs.
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters there were no reports of US losses in the operation.
In his earlier address, President Donald Trump had said: “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”
However, Secretary James Mattis said that “right now, this is a one-time shot”. Gen. Joseph Dunford confirmed the wave of strikes had ended.
Gen. Joseph Dunford said the US had specifically identified targets that would “mitigate” the risk of Russian casualties. However, the Pentagon said that Russia – which has forces on the ground in Syria in support of the government – had not been given advance notice of the targets.
On the same time, UK PM Theresa May confirmed British involvement, saying there was “no practicable alternative to the use of force”.
She also said the strikes were not about “regime change”.
According to the UK ministry of defense, UK strikes carried out by four Tornado jets hit one of the targets mentioned by the Pentagon – a military site near the city of Homs which is believed to have housed precursor materials for chemical weapons.
France President Emmanuel Macron also confirmed his country’s participation in the operation.
“Dozens of men, women and children were massacred with chemical weapons,” President Macron said of the Douma incident a week ago – adding that “the red line had been crossed”.
Syria has denied carrying out the Douma attack and Russia had warned that Western military strikes would risk starting a war.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has dispatched a fact-finding mission to the site of the alleged attack in Syria. Investigators were due to start their probe on April 14.
Sana, Syria’s official state news agency, called the western action “a flagrant violation of international law”.
It said: “The American, French and British aggression against Syria will fail.”
A US official told Reuters that Tomahawk cruise missiles were being used against multiple locations in Syria.