Images show buildings turned to ruin and rubble by Syria air strikes

Chemical weapons research centre, storage facility and command post all destroyed

Colin Drury
Sunday 15 April 2018 12:13 BST

Buildings turned to ruin and rubble – these are the first pictures of the destruction wrought by US-led air strikes on Syria’s alleged chemical weapons facilities.

The "precision" missile attacks wiped out a research centre in Damascus and a storage facility and command post near Homs.

Assessing the damage, Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, US Joint Staff director, said the strikes had completely destroyed the bases and had “set the Syrian chemical weapons programme back three years".

The images, thought to be taken by Syrians on the ground, show what was once the Scientific Studies and Research Centre compound in the Barzeh district, north Damascus.

The US, France and the UK are believed to have targetted the installation because it is understood to have been a major centre for the development, production and testing of chemical and biological agents.

Today, Syrian troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad could be seen assessing the damage amid the smoke and debris.

The strikes, which lasted 70 minutes, were undertaken in response to an alleged gas attack carried out by Syrian government forces in the city of Douma last weekend.

The Ministry of Defence said four Tornado jets from the RAF’s Akrotiri base in Cyprus fired bunker-busting Storm Shadow missiles at storage facilities.

Witnesses reported explosions jolting Damascus and the sky turning orange as air defence units fired surface-to-air missiles in response. Syria and Russia claims that 71 out of the 103 missiles were shot out the sky appear now to be questionable.

Hailing the action President Donald Trump tweeted. “Could not have had a better result,” he said. “Mission accomplished.”

And, at an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council, western leaders have since warned Syria it could launch further missiles if chemical weapons are used again

Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, said the country’s forces were “locked and loaded” to strike once more if Syria unleashed another gas assault.

It is not yet known if there were any civilian casualties.

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