In response to a chemical weapons attack after mulling military action for nearly a week, the U.S., British and French naval and air assets took part in the pre-dawn strikes with the most powerful weaponry in their arsenals. The United States fired 85 missiles, France 12 and Britain eight. The US Tomahawk missiles came in part from the Red Sea, where the USS Monterey and the USS Laboon were located.
Additionally, the USS Higgins destroyer fired Tomahawks from the Gulf, and the USS John Warner submarine launched them from the eastern Mediterranean.
In the air, two US B-1 bombers accompanied by fighters launched 19 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSMs).
On the French side of the mission, the Languedoc, a Fremm multi-mission frigate in the Mediterranean, fired missiles along with Rafale fighter jets. French naval cruise missile MDCN used for the first time in Saturday's operation, as French newspaper Le Monde reported.
The British meanwhile fired Storm Shadow missiles from a combination of Tornados and Typhoons.
The strike was about twice the size of a US operation against an Assad air base last year, in which 59 Tomahawk missiles were fired.
The Russian military said the allies had fired a total of 103 cruise missiles, but that Syrian air defense systems managed to intercept 71 of them.
Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, director of the US military's Joint Staff, said no missiles were intercepted and countered that "the Syrian response was remarkably ineffective in all domains."
Russia did not fire surface-to-air missiles in response to the attacks, despite a previous threat to do so, the US said.
Facing a stark choice between engaging the United States, Britain and France in combat or passively watching them strike his ally, President Vladimir Putin has opted for the peaceful route.
The Kremlin had warned Washington that Russia would fend off any strike that jeopardized its servicemen in Syria, and the West respected the red line by giving advance notice of Saturday's attack, just as it did a year ago when it struck a Syrian air base.
Russia's foreign ministry said the strikes came as Syria, which has been wracked by seven years of civil war, had "a chance of a peaceful future," and Moscow's ambassador to Washington warned of unspecified "consequences."
The strikes targeted three facilities related to Syria's "chemical weapons infrastructure," officials said, in what the US billed as a warning against Syria's Bashar al-Assad employing such weapons in the future, a warning he has been accused of flouting in the past.
McKenzie said the three facilities were the Barzeh research and development center on the outskirts of Damascus, a chemical weapons facility located outside Homs, and a nearby bunker facility.
The strikes were a response to reports that Damascus released toxic gas on the town of Douma on April 7, killing more than 40 people, claims Syria's regime and its Russian ally have dismissed as "fabrications."
Inspectors from the OPCW chemical watchdog began their investigation yesterday at the site of an alleged chemical attack near Damascus, a senior official said. "The fact-funding team arrived in Damascus on Saturday and is due to go to Douma on Sunday," Deputy Foreign Minister Ayman Soussan told AFP.
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