Nine civilians, including four children, were killed in the United States missile attack on a military airbase in Homs province in the early hours of Friday morning, the Syrian state news agency has said.
The report from SANA cited civil sources as stating that two missiles struck the al-Shairat airbase, resulting in the deaths of five civilians, including three children, and damage to houses. It adds that another U.S. missile fell in a nearby village, around two miles away from the airbase, killing four civilians, including one child.
Earlier, Homs Governor Talal Barazi had said that five people had been killed and seven more wounded, in comments to Lebanese television station al-Mayadeen. He added that there were civilian casualties close to the base, but that he did not expect the death toll to rise significantly. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that seven Syrian officers were killed in the strikes, including a colonel.
“I believe—God willing—that the human casualties are not big, but there is material damage,” Barazi said in separate comments to Reuters. “We hope there are not many victims and martyrs.”
In a separate report on the strikes, SANA claimed that the U.S.-led coalition had committed “dozens of massacres against the Syrians” which had left “dozens of civilians dead or injured.”
The U.S. said it launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria overnight from two U.S. Navy warships in the eastern Mediterranean in response to what it claims was a chemical weapon attack that killed more than 100 people earlier this week.
“We feel that the strike itself was proportional, because it was targeted at the facility that delivered this most recent chemical weapons attack,” Secretary of State Tillerson told reporters.
A report from the health ministry in Turkey, which supports the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, found that the nerve agent sarin was used in the attack. Syria has denied using chemical weapons, while the United Nations has said it will investigate the bombing as a possible war crime.
“Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the life of innocent men, women and children,” President Donald Trump said late Thursday from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
“Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in the vital, national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”