TRUMP’S government has warned it will strike again after rattling Russia by blitzing a Syrian airbase.
US ambassador Nikki Haley’s warning comes after Moscow claimed Trump had been “one step away” from war when his 59-missile strike was unleashed.
Trump ordered the bombardment of the Al-Sharyat Air Base after a sarine gas attack killed 86 civilians including at least 27 children earlier this week.
Syria’s brutal dictator and Russia’s ally Bashar al-Assad is accused of unleashing the sickening mass killing on his own people.
Haley justified the US’s reaction before the UN Security Council today, and said: “The United States took a very measured step last night.
“We are prepared to do more, but we hope it will not be necessary.”
Haley said the strike destroyed an airfield from which Washington believe Assad launched the gas attack.
The US ambassador added “we were fully justified” in retaliating.
Russia’s Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev claimed the US strike was illegal and warned Trump had been “one step away from military clashes with Russia.”
America was bitterly divided last night over Donald Trump’s dramatic U-turn on Syria.
Just 77 days into a presidency in which he vowed he would avoid foreign wars and “put America first”, Trump ordered a missile attack that embroiled the US in the conflict.
It outraged many of his hardline supporters but earned applause in Congress from politicians who had criticised Barack Obama for failing to act over Syria.
Observers in Syria have said the Al-Sharyat Air Base near Homs, central Syria, was “almost completely destroyed” by the 1000lb warheads dropped by US forces.
The strike is said to have destroyed 20 planes, a dozen aircraft hangars and a fuel depot as the runway was heavily bombarded.
Four children are said to be among nine civilians killed in the US attack, according to a Syrian state news agency.
The missiles were fired from US destroyers some 150 miles away in the Mediterranean Sea.
Satellite images revealed the damage wreaked by Trump’s 59-missile blitz amid news Vladimir Putin has promised to bolster Syria’s air defences.
The Russian president has sent out the nation’s Black Sea Fleet’s frigate, the Admiral Grigorovich, to the Syrian port city of Tartus in the Mediterranean, according to Russian news agency Tass.
Trump launched the “precision-guided” Tomahawk cruise missiles in the early hours of Friday morning.
Russia, which has hundreds of military troops on the ground in Syria targeting rebel-held areas, said it will strengthen Assad’s regime and help shoot down enemy warplanes in the wake of the US strike.
It also mocked the “extremely low” effectiveness of Trump’s attack, claiming just 23 of the 59 cruise missiles fired from US Navy destroyers had hit their target.
But the Russian Defence Ministry admitted it was unclear where 36 other missiles had landed.
Videos and pics this morning showed Syrian aircraft shelters partially or fully collapsed and with black scorch marks on the walls.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said: “Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.”
It has been speculated that Trump’s was inspired by his daughter’s condemnation of the deadly gas attacks.
As the White House initially focused on blaming former President Barack Obama for Tuesday’s “reprehensible” assault, Ivanka Trump, 35, tweeted that she was “heartbroken and outraged”
Putin, who condemned the attack, branded Trump’s move as an “illegal act of aggression against a sovereign nation” warning it would “damage US-Russia ties” and demanded an emergency UN meeting.
It comes as world leaders praised the US strikes with Britain describing the overnight assault as an “appropriate response”.
The cruise missiles were fired at around 4.40am local time from two warships – the USS Porter and the USS Ross – sitting in the Mediterranean Sea.
They targeted the base’s airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas, US officials said.
Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, confirmed Britain had been given notice of the strikes, but was not asked to get involved.
He added: “I hope Russia will learn from what happened last night and use its influence over Assad.”
Syrian forces earlier accused the US of being a “partner of ISIS” describing the bombing as an act of “blatant aggression” – while rebels welcomed the move but said the attack was “not enough”.
The SANA news agency report claimed the civilians died in villages near the airbase – adding more had been wounded and homes had been badly damaged.
The allegations could not be independently verified and Syrian state media has been known to use propaganda in its news coverage to discredit opponents.
Syrian military officials earlier reported the missiles killed at least seven people and injured nine others – but the death toll remains unclear at this stage.
Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Turkey, Italy, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Japan also joined the list of nations that backed the US missile strikes.
French President Francois Hollande said the US response is what France asked for in 2013 after a previous “chemical attack” in Syria.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the attack was understandable given the Syrian people’s suffering.
She said: ”The attack of the United States is understandable given the dimension of the war crimes, given the suffering of innocent people, and given the blockage in the UN Security Council.”
Saudi Arabia said in a statement: ”A responsible source at the foreign ministry expressed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s full support for the American military operations on military targets in Syria, which came as a response to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians.”
Meanwhile, Iran “strongly condemned” the US air strikes on its ally, Syria, according to Tehran’s state news agency.
Turkish deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmuş, said he hoped the operation would contribute to achieving peace in Syria and said the international community needed to maintain pressure on Assad.
A spokesperson for the Polish government said: ”The United States for sure are a guarantor of world peace and order. And there are situations when you need to react, situations when you need to take actual action. We have seen the abuses of the Syrian regime over the last years – no one had reacted to that.”
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he ordered missile strikes against a Syrian airfield from which a deadly chemical weapons attack was launched, declaring he acted in America’s “vital national security interest”.
Speaking to the nation after launching the attack, Trump – who had earlier been meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping – said that the action was in response to the Assad’s chemical massacre – for which the Syrian government has strongly denied responsibility.
Trump said: “Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many.
“Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.
“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched.
“It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
The President added that there could be “no dispute” Syria used banned chemical weapons and he attacked previous attempts to bring Assad into line – which he said had “failed very dramatically”.
Trump said the resulting impact of Assad’s rage had worsened a refugee crisis and destabilised the region “threatening the United States and its allies”.
The President said: “Tonight, I call on all civilised nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”
America’s intervention comes after the UK led calls for diplomatic action over Assad’s horrific use of chemical weapons.
Britain also played down the prospect of military action.
Following the bombings, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said that the strike was a “proportional response to Assad’s heinous act”.
The spokesman said that the Shayrat Airfield was used to store chemical weapons and Syrian air forces and he revealed that America intelligence believed aircraft from the base carried out the chemical weapons attack.
He added: “The strike was intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again.”
The Pentagon spokesman also revealed that Russian forces were notified in advance of the attack and that early indications showed the bombing had damaged or destroyed Ayrian aircraft “reducing the Syrian Government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons”.
He added: “The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated.”
The sudden US military action against the Assad regime marks a stunning development in Syria’s brutal, six-year conflict and a sudden about-face for Trump.
It came despite a warning from Russia of potential “negative consequences” if Washington strikes Syria.
“All responsibility if military action occurs will be on the shoulders of those who initiated such a doubtful tragic enterprise,” Russian Ambassador to the UN Vladimir Safronkov said.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had earlier revealed the United States was considering an “appropriate response” to the attack in Khan Sheikhun in rebel-held Idlib province, which killed at least 86 people, including 27 children.
The White House official said the United States assessed that the Assad regime used a chemical nerve agent consistent with sarin in Tuesday’s attacks.
“It’s a serious matter, it requires a serious response,” Tillerson said.
He added the chemical attack “violates all previous UN resolutions, violates international norms and long-held agreements”.
Trump had earlier suggested Assad would have to leave power while jetting to Florida on Air Force One to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.
When asked if Assad should go, Trump said: “I think what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity, and he’s there (Assad), and I guess he’s running things, so I guess something should happen.”
“What Assad did is terrible. What happened in Syria is truly one of the egregious crimes and it shouldn’t have happened. And it shouldn’t be allowed to happen.”
When pressed on whether the US would take military action, he replied: “I don’t want to say what I’m going to be doing with respect to Syria.”
It came as US ambassador Nikki Haley threatened military action as world fury mounted over the sickening nerve gas attack.
In a highly-charged emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, Ms Haley held up graphic images of babies killed in the atrocity – some still in their nappies – insisting: “Look at those pictures”.
She mounted a withering attack on Russia for propping up tyrannical President Bashar al-Assad, saying: “How many more children have to die before Russia cares?”
Ms Haley told the session: “When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action”.
In the horrific chemical attack on Tuesday traumatised witnesses told how birds fell from the sky during the chemical attack in Syria that left at least 100 dead.
Victims painted a horrific picture of the attack that left dozens of kids dead – as world leaders pinned the blame on Assad.
The airstrikes hit the town of Khan Sheikhoun, in the central province of Idlib, yesterday morning.
Doctors treating the victims said they suffered symptoms matching those caused by exposure to the deadly nerve agent sarin, including foaming at the mouth.
One Syrian rebel told Haaretz: “All the pictures and all the witness accounts suggest as much.
“Bodies of children, women and men that don’t show a drop of blood and everyone is suffocated – even birds fell from the sky, dead.
“If anyone in the world has any doubt, they should send their representatives here.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said many of those killed died from suffocation and the effects of the gas.
The British-based group said 18 people died at first but the death toll later rose to 35 and now 100 - including 11 children.
The air strikes also wounded 400 others.
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