Syrian state media has claimed that U.S missile strikes on an air base in Syria has killed nine civilians, including four children as Donald Trump launched the first direct American attack on Bashar Assad’s regime.
Four children are reported to be among nine civilians killed in the “targeted assault” on the air base, from where Trump said a devastating nerve agent strike was launched earlier this week. Six servicemen are believed to have also been killed. The British government has described the overnight assault as an “appropriate response” to this week’s chemical attack in Syria. The Russian government warned the U.S act of “aggression” will damage its relations with America.
An earlier report from the Syrian army’s chief of staff General Ali Ayyoub, said that the overnight cruise missile strike had killed six people and injured seven more.
World leaders praised the U.S strikes and persisted Putin to hold urgent talks with Trump to prevent the Syria crisis escalating into a world wide conflict. This morning, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, speaking alongside German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, said:
“We do not want an escalation. We have to stop the hypocrisy. If Russia is acting in good faith it should stop and negotiate.”
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem denied claims that the military used chemical weapons in the western city of Idlib. Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Muallem said an airstrike by Syrian military had targeted an arms depot where chemical weapons stockpiles were stored by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front militants.
He said it’s impossible that the army – which has been making significant gains in almost all theaters of the Syrian war – would use banned chemical weapons against its “own people” and even terrorists.
Trump ordered the strike against Syria early Friday local time in retaliation for the chemical weapons attack that killed 86 people on Tuesday, he said.
Later, Homs governor Talal Barazi told The Associated Press there had been deaths from the missile strikes, but gave no number of casualties.
“I believe — God willing — that the human casualties are not big, but there is material damage. We hope there are not many victims and martyrs,” Barazi told Reuters by telephone.
A local man living near al Shayrat told a BBC producer that the blasts from the strike were “massive” and that he believed many civilians living near the airfield could have been killed. The strike caused extensive damage to the airbase, footage shot by Syrian and Russian state media showed.