6 Killed in US Missile Strike on Syria; Russia Calls for Security Council Meet
U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria. (Photo: Reuters)
Beirut (Lebanon): Six people were killed and several wounded in a US missile strike on an airbase, the Syrian military said on Friday.
The United States blasted the airbase with a barrage of cruise missiles Thursday night in fiery retaliation for this week's gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians. President Donald Trump cast the US assault as vital to deter future use of poison gas and called on other nations to join in seeking "to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria."
It was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Trump's most dramatic military order since becoming president just over two months ago. Announcing the assault from his Florida resort, Trump said there was no doubt Syrian President Bashar Assad was responsible for the chemical attack, which he said employed banned gases and killed dozens.
The US strikes hit the government-controlled Shayrat air base in central Syria, where US officials say the Syrian military planes that dropped the chemicals had taken off. The US missiles hit at 8:45 pm in Washington, 3:45 am Friday morning in Syria. The missiles targeted the base's airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas, officials said.
The surprise US assault marked a striking reversal for Trump, who warned as a candidate against the US getting pulled into the Syrian civil war, now in its seventh year. But the president earlier in the week appeared moved by the photos of children killed in the chemical attack, calling it a "disgrace to humanity" that crossed "a lot of lines."
The president did not announce the attacks in advance, though he and other national security officials ratcheted up their warnings to the Syrian government throughout the day Thursday.
Russia said it considers the strike an "aggression against a sovereign state," which will further harm US-Russia ties. "President Putin considers American strikes on Syria aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international norms, and under an invented pretext," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Russia has also called for a United Nations Security Council meeting over the strikes, AFP reported. "We call upon the UN Security Council to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation," the foreign ministry in Moscow said in a statement, calling the strike a "gross... violation of international law."
(With agency inputs)