Wars and Military Conflicts

The US warned the Russians ahead of Syria missile strikes

Trump: Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women & children
Trump: Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women & children

A U.S. official said the Russians had been warned before the U.S. launched at least 59 tomahawk missiles aimed at Syria.

Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said in an official statement: "Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield."

The strikes, which hit an airfield near Homs, struck aircraft and infrastructure including the runway, NBC reported. There is no word on casualties yet, but no people were targeted, the official told NBC.

No Russian assets were targeted, according to the report.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Russia had failed to carry out a 2013 agreement to secure Syrian chemical weapons, adding that Moscow was either complicit or incompetent in its ability to uphold that deal.

Tillerson said that the U.S. had a high degree of confidence that sarin nerve gas had been used in the Tuesday chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held area of northern Syria hit by government air strikes.

The secretary of state said the U.S. "sought no approval from Moscow" on the strike.

Following the U.S. attack, the head of Russia's upper house of Parliament's defense committee said Moscow would call for an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting, Reuters reported citing RIA. The report also said the lawmaker claimed the U.S. strike could undermine efforts to fight terrorism in Syria.

Russia's deputy U.N. envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, warned earlier Thursday of "negative consequences" if the U.S. carried out military strikes on Syria over the attack.

File photo of the USS Ross (DDG 71) in the Mediterranean Sea on July 20, 2016. The USS Ross and USS Porter launched tomahawk missiles into Syria on April 6, 2017.
US Navy | Reuters

"We have to think about negative consequences, negative consequences, and all the responsibility if military action occurred will be on shoulders of those who initiated such doubtful and tragic enterprise," Safronkov told reporters when asked about possible U.S. strikes, adding that such consequences could be seen in Iraq and Libya.

Western countries have blamed President Bashar al-Assad's armed forces for Tuesday's chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun. Syria's government has denied responsibility.

The United States, Britain and France proposed a draft U.N. resolution on Tuesday to condemn the attack and press Syria to cooperate with international investigators. Russia said the text was unacceptable and proposed a rival draft.

In February, Syrian ally Russia, backed by China, cast its seventh veto to protect Assad's government from council action, blocking a bid by Western powers to impose sanctions over accusations of chemical weapons attacks. China has vetoed six resolutions on Syria.

A Security Council resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Britain, France, Russia or China to pass.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

—Reuters contributed to this report.