Russia condemns US missile strike on ‘chemical weapons’ base

Chidi Samuel with agency report || Russia on Friday condemned the US missile strike on a Syrian government airbase.

The government of Vladimir Putin, which backs President Bashar al-Assad, called the strike an act of aggression and suspended a deal designed to avoid mid-air collisions over Syria.

On the orders of President Donald Trump, two US Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Shayrat airfield in western Homs province at about 04:40 Syrian time (01:40 GMT).

The strike targeted aircraft, aircraft shelters, storage areas, ammunition supply bunkers and air defence systems at the Syrian government-controlled facility which the Pentagon said had been used to launch a chemical weapons attack in north-western Syria that left dozens of civilians dead on Tuesday.

It is the first direct US military action against Syria’s government.

The Syrian government had also condemned the attack, calling it an act of aggression.

“This aggression has increased Syria’s resolve to hit those terrorist agents, to continue to crush them, and to raise the pace of action to that end wherever they area,” a statement from the presidency said.

The statement described the U.S. attack as rash and irresponsible and showing Washington was “naively pulled behind a false propaganda campaign.”

The Syrian army said there had been significant damage to the base.

Retired civil servant Mateea Zefa, who lives about 800m (874yds) from the base, went with his children to look at the base afterward and found it “totally destroyed”.

“We saw lots of bombs,” he told the BBC by phone. “Loads of them. It was a tough night. My house was damaged, almost all the windows broke and some walls cracked.”

Houses on one side of the base were also “totally destroyed”, he added.

A nurse at Shayrat’s hospital, Ammar al-Khidr, recalled being woken by “big explosions” at “around 03:30 or 03:45”.

“There was a lot of noise,” she said. “The town is about 2km from the base and all the windows are doors were knocked out. The children were all scared.”

Some children and other people were injured by shards of breaking glass but no civilians were killed, she said.

The dead and seriously injured were all soldiers, she said, adding: “All the soldiers from the base were brought to this hospital. They have serious injuries like burns and fractures. Some of them lost limbs.”