After days of discussion and tension, Donald Trump finally announced the long awaited strikes on Syria today.
Latest reports speak of loud explosions being heard in Damascus.
The extent of the operation is for the moment unknown, though Trump confirmed that Britain and France were involved in it.
However judging from Trump’s comments, the operation is of a limited scale and is not the all-encompassing air offensive against Syria which some were hankering for. Instead Trump spoke of “precision strikes” on “Syrian chemical weapons facilities” (whatever that means) and appeared to say that the strikes would not last for more than a day.
If so then this would appear to be a bigger version of the one-off missile attack on Al-Shayrat air base in April of last year.
For its part the Al Masdar new site – which has reliable sources in Syria – says that the strike is taking the form of a cruise missile attack on Syria’s Dumayr air base near Damascus, which was the air base which was used by the Syrian air force to carry out air to ground operations in support of the Syrian army in the Battle of East Ghouta, which is now over.
However there may be other strikes on other targets underway of which nothing so far is known.
Having said this, Trump’s words were not wholly clear, and it will be some time before the full extent of these strikes is known.
One thing Trump did go out of his way to do was speak in highly conciliatory terms towards Russia, confirming that Russian facilities and Russian personnel would not be targets of the strikes.
He also confirmed his intention to withdraw US troops from Syria “eventually”, though of course he gave no indication of when that would be.
The situation remains extremely unclear, and we will be providing regular updates.