France, the US and Britain struck three of Syria’s main weapons facilities on Saturday in a military operation that involved the use of more than 100 missiles fired from ships and manned aircraft.
The targets were a Syrian centre in the greater Damascus area for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological weaponry; a chemical weapons storage facility near the city of Homs; and a third site, also near Homs, containing both a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and a command post.
France's Defence Minister Florence Parly told reporters Saturday that French military strikes targeted the "main research centre" for the Syrian chemical weapons program and "two important production sites."
Parly added that France used five missile-equipped frigates based in the Mediterranean, in addition to five Rafale fighter jets, five Mirage 2000 jets and two AWAC radar-equipped planes flying from several bases in France.
France also used naval-borne MCDN missile systems for the first time in Saturday’s attacks, Le Monde reported.
There has been no official statement from Washington on what specific targets the US military struck and what weapons they used to do so. However, unnamed defence sources told The New York Times that “Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched”, while the US navy said Friday that the USS Winston S. Churchill, a destroyer armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, had approached the Mediterranean, joining the USS Donald Cook within range of Syria for firing Tomahawks.
For its part the British Defense Ministry said four of its Tornado GR4 warplanes fired a total of eight missiles at one of the targets near Homs, flying from the RAF Akrotiri air base in Cyprus.
The Russian military said the three Western allies fired 103 cruise missiles at Syria but that Syrian air defence systems managed to intercept 71 of them.
However, a French military spokesman told reporters that “nothing suggests to us that they may have been intercepted”.
There were also conflicting signals – from Washington and Paris – on what the Western allies told Moscow before the strikes.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the US military advised Russia of airspace that would be used in the strike but did not "pre-notify them."
But Paris described things differently: French Defence Minister Florence Parly said that “with our allies, we ensured that the Russians were warned ahead of time”.
(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2018-04-14