Over 100 cruise missiles fired at Syria, many intercepted in US led strikes

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Several huge explosions were heard in Syria's capital early today, AFP's correspondent there said, as US President Donald Trump announced strikes on the country were under way. Syrian state television also reported a US attack on Syria, in coordination with France and Britain.

Donald Trump

The US and its allies fired more than 100 cruise missiles at Syria, a significant number of which were intercepted by Syrian air defences, the Russian defence ministry said Saturday.

"More than 100 cruise missiles and air-to-land missiles were fired by the US, Britain and France from the sea and air at Syrian military and civilian targets," the ministry said in a statement quoted by RIA Novosti news agency, adding that "a significant number" were shot down by Syrian air defences.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Syrian citizens are demonstrating in a landmark square of the Syrian capital, waving victory signs and honking their car horns in a show of defiance.

Trump on Friday ordered the United States military - in conjunction with France and the United Kingdom - to launch strikes on Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad on a Damascus suburb last week.

"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 primetime televised address to the nation.

"These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead," he added.

Describing the strike as a deterrent, Trump said the US would maintain pressure on Syria until the Assad regime suspends use of chemical weapons.

"America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria," he said, thanking the UK and France for joining the US in its fight against the Syrian regime.

"My fellow Americans, 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.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was "no practicable alternative" to the use of force in Syria as she announced Britain had joined France and the United States in launching strikes against Syria.

"This evening I have authorised British armed forces to conduct co-ordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian regime's chemical weapons capability and deter their use," she said in a statement.

President Emmanuel Macron said that France had joined the US and Britain in an ongoing operation against Syria with strikes to target "the capacities of the Syrian regime to produce and use chemical weapons".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a scientific research centre and military bases in Damascus were struck in the attack by the United States and allies.

The strikes were the biggest intervention by Western powers against Assad in the country's seven-year-old civil war and pitted the United States and its allies against Russia, which itself intervened in the war in 2015 to back Assad.

Trump spent the last few days huddling with his senior military advisers, and speaking to allies France and Britain, in deciding what action to take after the deadly attack in Douma, the largest town in the former rebel-held bastion of Eastern Ghouta. Fox News reported that the Trump administration had taken the decision to strike Syria, citing an unnamed administration official, but without saying whether the attack had been launched.

US naval assets would be involved in the operation, including the USS Donald Cook which is in the region, while British Prime Minister Theresa May had authorised the use of submarines as a show of support, the official told the network.

OneIndia News (with PTI inputs)

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