Multiple places in Syria have come under attack by US, British and French military forces after President Donald Trump ordered a military strike against the war-torn country.
"A short time ago, I ordered the United States Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad," Trump said in a televised address from the White House on Friday evening.
US officials said that Tomahawk cruise missiles and other types of bombs were used in the attack early Saturday, with UK's Defense Ministry saying that four RAF tornado jets also took part in the strike.
British Prime Minister Theresa May also said she authorized the British armed forces to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes, noting, "I have done so because I judge this action to be in Britain’s national interest."
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes hit Syria bases and chemical research centers around Damascus.
UK jets struck a Syrian military facility near the Syrian province of Homs, according to the Britain's Defense Ministry.
A Reuters witness said that at least six loud explosions were heard in Damascus with smoke rising over the Syrian capital where a second witness said the Barzah district, the location of a major Syrian scientific research center, was also hit in the strikes.
Meanwhile, Syrian state television reported that "Syrian air defense blocks American, British, French aggression on Syria." It added that 13 missiles were shot down.
The US has been threatening Damascus with military action since April 7, when a suspected chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, reportedly killed 60 people and injured hundreds more. The Syrian government has already strongly denied using chemical munitions in the flashpoint town.
Russia has repeatedly said the chemical attack was staged by desperate militants to provoke further intervention in the conflict by the West, namely the US-led military coalition that has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be terrorists’ targets inside the Arab country since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
In his address, Trump said, "The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons."
He also warned Moscow and Tehran against continuing support of the Syrian government, but said, "hopefully, someday we’ll get along with Russia, and maybe even Iran."
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said in a press briefing that future strikes will depend on whether the Syrian government uses chemical weapons.