Several dozen people were injured in airstrikes in Syria

The Trump Administration, meanwhile, indicated that the predawn assault was a one-off operation to be repeated only if Assad used chemical weapons again. It wasn’t clear if that now included chlorine, which Assad has used dozens of times against civilians without American retaliation.

The U.S. military said the main targets of the strikes were two storage facilities, one that produced the deadly nerve agent sarin, and another was part of a command post, which were located west of the city of Homs. The third target was the Barzah Research Center, a military facility located near Damascus that conducted research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology.

Indeed, the facilities were most likely empty at 4 a.m. local time when the strike hit, McKenzie said. No civilian deaths were reported as a direct result of the strikes, he said, but there was a possibility that innocents could have been killed by Syrian air defense systems, which shot wildly and missed inbound U.S. missiles. He dismissed claims by the Syrian government that the defenses shot down more than 70 weapons, adding that every missile hit its pre-designed target.

When the strikes were over and the sun rose over Damascus, Assad appeared unfazed by the Western show of force. Syria’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying the military strikes “will not affect the determination and will of the Syrian people and their armed forces to continue pursuing the remnants of … terrorism and defending Syria’s sovereignty.”

Now, the use of chemical weapons is a “red line” that, if crossed, will trigger U.S. and European military response, but the same tough talk has not been attributed to other war crimes. Assad has unleashed brutal, unrelenting violence, leveling his country’s cities with crude bombs dropped from helicopters as well as deliberately striking hospitals and humanitarian convoys.

Those killed by chemical weapons attacks represent a fraction of the approximate 350,000 people who have been killed in the fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Dana White, Pentagon spokeswoman, said the latest round of strikes could reenergize the U.N.-led peace process to end the Syrian civil war in Geneva, Switzerland. But those talks have repeatedly failed, causing analysts to cast doubt on the optimism.

Charitable Foundation Winston Churchill collects humanitarian aid to victims of the bombing in Syria. Donate

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