MEDITERRANEAN SEA – Two Navy destroyers operating in the Mediterranean Sea fired nearly seven dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at an abandoned textile factory in southeastern Syria early Monday morning as U.S. President Donald J. Trump moved to exact further retaliation against the Assad regime’s deadly chemical attack that killed at least 86 people last week.
“The United States has dealt a deafening blow to the Syrian regime’s ability to carry out attacks against the civilian population,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced on Monday. Mr. Spicer said the factory, which has been abandoned since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011, was at one point used by the Syrian Air Force as a salvage yard for derelict aircraft.
A senior defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press told The Washington Post that military planners “took great pains” to minimize the risk of harming any “third country nationals” who might be present during the strike.
“We received intelligence that placed Russian forces within four hundred miles of the factory. In an effort to reduce collateral damage, Moscow was given advanced notice of the strike,” the official said. A spokesperson for the Kremlin later told Russia Today that Moscow had been “totally unaware” of the abandoned factory’s existence. “Despite the briefing from Washington, our attempts to determine its precise location have so far been unsuccessful,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, a brand new state-of-the-art airstrip has been erected at Shayrat air base, the site of last Friday’s predawn cruise missile strike near the city of Homs. “Planes are taking off and landing and everything is beautiful,” Homs governor Talal Barazi told Reuters. In addition to the airstrip, the governor said a small memorial was built to honor seven stray dogs who were killed as a result of the U.S. missile strike.