by Ryan Pickrell
The U.S., U.K., and France sent Syria a “very strong message” Saturday morning, hitting targets with more than twice the firepower used against the Assad regime last year, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Friday evening.
More than one hundred missiles fired from air and sea rained down on targets associated with Syria’s chemical weapons program immediately after President Donald Trump announced that the U.S., in concert with its allies, would punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his alleged involvement in a deadly chemical weapons attack last weekend.
Here’s what the Americans, British, and French brought to the fight:
U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers participated in the Saturday morning strike on Syria, defense officials confirmed to CNN. This particular military aircraft, while it is no longer nuclear capable, carries the largest conventional munitions payload of any Air Force bomber and is able to launch stand-off JASSM cruise missiles carrying a 1,000-pound warhead.
American air assets were accompanied by hard-hitting naval units, specifically the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook and an unidentified Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, USNI News reports, citing defense officials. These vessels carry dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles able to strike targets around 1,500 miles away.
France launched cruise missiles from three multi-mission frigates and one standard frigate armed with MdCN (Missile de Croisière Naval) cruise missiles, according to CNN. The naval units were backed by an unknown number of French Rafale fighter jets, which carry the stand-off Storm Shadow cruise missile with a range of more than 250 miles.
The British sent four Royal Air Force Tornado jets from the Akrotiri base in Cyprus to level a military facility near Homs with Storm Shadow missiles, Reuters introduced, citing the British Ministry of Defense. It is unclear if other British forces were involved in strikes on the other Syrian targets.
The coalition forces struck three main targets in Syria Saturday, including a scientific research center in Damascus dedicated to the development of chemical weapons, a chemical weapons production and storage facility near Homs, and a command and control center located near the second target, the Pentagon revealed Friday.
It is unclear at this time how much damage Syrian installations sustained in the attack. Syria claims that it was able to “absorb the attack,” but the damage reports from Syria are unreliable.
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