US and allies launch attack on ‘chemical weapon sites’ in Syria. Here’s what we know about the sites targeted.
The US, UK and France launched early morning strikes on Saturday against targets in Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in the former rebel stronghold of Douma last weekend.
James Mattis, Pentagon chief, said the strikes had three targets in Syria as part of an effort to “destroy the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons research, development and production capabilities”.
Here is what we know so far about the targeted sites:
1. Research centre in Damascus’ Barzeh district
- General Joseph Dunford, Washington’s top general, said the first attack was directed at Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Centre in the Barzeh district outside the capital Damascus.
- “This military facility was a Syrian centre for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology,” Dunford said after the attacks.
- The French military also confirmed the attack on the research facility.
- Syria’s state news agency SANA said the attack resulted in only material damage.
- The attack destroyed a building that includes a learning centre and laboratories, Syrian state TV added.
2. Weapons storage centre near Homs
- The second strike targeted a storage facility west of Homs believed to produce chemical weapons, Dunford said.
- Syrian state media said that missiles in the attack were intercepted by the country’s missile defence system.
- “The missiles that targeted a military position in Homs were thwarted and diverted from their path, and injured three civilians,” state news agency SANA said.
3. Command post and storage facility near Homs
- “The third target, which was in the vicinity of the second target, contained both a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and an important command post,” Dunford said.
- A senior official in the regional alliance that backs Syrian government forces told Reuters news agency that Damascus had “absorbed the strike”.
- “We had an early warning of the strike from the Russians … and all military bases were evacuated a few days ago … We are carrying out an assessment of the material damages,” the official said.
Citing a regional military alliance that supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Reuters reported the targeting of the al-Shirai airbase in al-Dimas, west of Damascus near the Lebanese border. US officials have not commented on the reports.
According to Reuters, attacks were also reported in Masyaf, about 170km north of Damascus, arms depots in the eastern Qalamoun region northeast of the capital, the Kisweh area south of Damascus and a site in the Qasyoun hills overlooking Damascus.
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