Syria insists they knew the attack on Damascus was coming
Sunday - 15/04/2018 03:47
HUGE explosions and the glow of incoming missiles dominated the Damascus sky. But Syria says it knew it was coming.
DEAFENING blasts shook many in the Syrian capital awake as the US-led attack began.
The dark sky was lit up by fireballs as the missiles — what US Donald Trump called “precision air strikes” — began to rain down on Damascus. The hour-long assault triggered Syrian air defences attempt to shoot down the tomahawk missiles, and that action could be seen and heard throughout the capital.
Once it was over smoke billowed from the areas Western forces had attacked and flames could be seen among the darkness and city lights. Mr Trump said civilian areas were not being targeted — the locations targeted had been identified as contributing to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal.
Syria claimed to have shot 13 missiles down. The US Defense Secretary James Mattis did not confirm the claim when he addressed media at The Pentagon, but said more details of the operation would be released later today.
There were no reports of any coalition injuries or losses.
Mr Mattis and Marine General Joseph Dunford said three main chemical weapons facilities were targeted by both missiles from the sea and fired from aircraft, which triggered Syrian air defences.
He could not confirm how many of the missiles hit their targets.
Asked when the next wave of attacks would begin, he said “right now this is a one-time shot”. But Mr Trump indicated the US would not be walking way from the fight quickly, telling the world in his televised address a “sustained” assault was required.
A senior official in a regional alliance that backs Damascus insisted the Syrian government and its allies evacuated the targeted sites days ago, thanks to a warning from Russia,
“We have absorbed the strike,” the official told Reuters.
“We had an early warning of the strike from the Russians ... and all military bases were evacuated a few days ago,” the official said.
Around 30 missiles were fired in the attack, and a third of them were shot down, the official said.
“We are carrying out an assessment of the material damages,” the official added. Syrian state media said the strikes caused material damage only at a scientific research centre in the Barzeh district of Damascus on Friday.
The attack destroyed a building that includes a learning centre and laboratories, state TV said.
“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.
General Dunford told reporters, adding the U.S. military advised Russia of airspace that would be used in the strike but did not ‘pre-notify them.’